In an interview with Vanity Fair, larger-than-life “fashion landmark” André Leon Talley talks about growing up with his grandmother in Durham, North Carolina, in the 1950s and ‘60s. As a bullied outcast, Vogue was his solace, as was John Fairchild’s The Fashionable Savages, which he read so many times he “practically memorized it.”
When Vanity Fair asked Talley whether he knew he was gay in high school, he responded, “No, no, no. I was just into my magazines and the drawings. I had a very strict upbringing, almost puritanical. I lived there all the way through college. I was in my grandmother’s house, and I respected that!"
Although he has engaged in homosexual acts, he rejects the gay “label” and says he has only ever been in love with two females: a fellow college student in Providence and a Manhattan society woman. “[While I’ve] had very gay experiences, yes, I swear on my grandmother’s grave that I never slept with a single designer in my life,” he insists. “Never, ever desired, never was asked, never was approached, never, ever bought, in my entire career. Never. Not one. Skinny or fat. Never.”
Talley recently left his post at Vogue, where he worked for 30 years and was credited as being “the only man who could see Anna [Wintour] in her underwear.” He is currently the editor of Numéro Russia.