Andre Leon Talley

His conversation with Fern Mallis was laced with laughs, thanks to his off-the-cuff commentary on a career working with Vreeland, Warhol, Fairchild and Wintour.

ALL ANDRÉ: After an exhaustive, rapid-fire recap of his career Tuesday night at 92Y, André Leon Talley was only surprised by one thing — that the crowd stayed interested for two hours.

His fast-marching conversation with Fern Mallis was laced with laughs, thanks to his off-the-cuff commentary on a career working with Diana Vreeland, Andy Warhol, John Fairchild and Anna Wintour. Talley’s chapter on Vreeland was among the most entertaining: “How she talked about Dal Co’ boots — it was literature,” and, “We used to have the most compelling conversations for four hours about French espadrilles.”

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The audience also enjoyed declarations such as “I decided if Marc Jacobs can wear a lace dress, I can wear a caftan or anything I want”; “I am only on Twitter because Diane von Furstenberg told me that I had to be — no Instagram, no Facebook, no sending naked pictures,” and, “I don’t garden — I just point.”

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The North Carolina-born editor recalled his early days in New York, living at the 23rd Street YMCA “with the human cockroaches and the real cockroaches” (in a room furnished with antiques from Halston). Now editor at large at Numero magazine, Talley spoke of his weakness for $3,000 sheets and how his “America’s Next Top Model” gig covered the cost of a new roof and a paint job for his house. Friends like Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors were there for every last laugh. When another friend, Bethann Hardison, tried to make an early exit, Talley flat-out called her out. Stopping midsentence, he asked “Where are you going Bethann? You sit back down.”

Talley, who turns 64 Wednesday, left the audience with little to wonder about, at times answering follow-up questions before they were even asked. Mentioning how Karl Lagerfeld gave him $50,000 for his 50th birthday, Talley said, “And I never slept with him.”

He said Wintour is “not a cold person” but a guarded one. Talley was just as frank about his weight, telling the crowd he swore off eating anything with sugar starting in July, after a friend insisted he was going to die if he didn’t change his eating habits.

He also spoke up about young editors. “I cannot stand the way that people today think they know everything just because they are in your presence. They know nothing and they think they have nothing to learn.”

What really grabbed the crowd’s attention and led to an ovation was Talley’s view on racism, “You have to make people aware that they may not be racist but they are doing racist acts.”

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