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André Leon Talley’s new memoir, “A.L.T.,” is about the most important women in his life, his grandmother Bennie Frances Davis and Diana Vreeland. Those who love Talley best — and that meant scores of well-wishers, both female and male — jam-packed a book signing Wednesday night at Bergdorf Goodman. And what makes the author so special?
“There’s nothing about him that isn’t special,” Nan Kempner announced.
This story first appeared in the April 24, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Angela Bassett perched at the side of Vogue’s editor at large, while the throngs kept him pinned behind a giant desk, inscribing book after book with his graceful left-handed scrawl. One by one, they thrust their copies forward, singing his praises — and it was quite a crowd.
Mica Ertegun, Anne Bass, Cornelia Guest, C.Z. Guest and Nina Griscom marveled at the store window dedicated to Talley, before sweeping upstairs to the bash, as did Anna Wintour, Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, Vera Wang, Mary McFadden, Pierre Hervé, Mark Badgley, James Mischka, and Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. Other admirers included Talley’s doctor and his pastor at the Abysinnian Baptist Church in Harlem, Rev. Renee Washington. But his most die-hard fan might have been Malcolm Phipps, a designer for the clothing line Garbage, who wore a shirt with Talley’s likeness emblazoned on it.
“He’s been an inspiration to me ever since we met three years ago,” said Phipps.
At the sound of breaking glass, Bergdorf’s Robert Burke set out on spill control with a stack of cocktail napkins.
“Now it’s a party,” he declared.
But Talley himself seemed just as overwhelmed by the frenzied outpouring of affection he had inspired as the store’s executives did.