WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: It’s been less than a year since his messy exit from Vogue, but evidently Andre Leon Talley forgives and forgets. In the most recent issue of the New York Observer, the ex-creative director gushed about his former boss Anna Wintour’s Costume Institute gala this week: “It’s a megamoment of style. This is Anna Wintour’s great ascension into the social firmament.” Way back in March in the New York Times, Talley saw her as a bit more worldly — even commercial, and he described Vogue as “a creative Chernobyl.” Talley complained, “People have begun to care more about dollars than about elegance in fashion. I would like to be in a pure environment of elegance. Advertising does not create fashion excitement.”
Anna, apparently, has also forgiven. She now dines regularly with Talley, and he’s a fixture once again around Vogue’s editorial office, even though his consulting contract is with Vanity Fair.

BEAUTY LOOKS UP: After several near-disastrous months, the toiletries category is showing some signs of life. According to the Magazine Publishers’ Association, which tallies advertising categories monthly, ad revenues for toiletries and beauty categories were up 12 percent over last November, the first increase in 1995.

NOT A WALLFLOWER: Shoe and accessories designer Kenneth Cole continued his provocative and often political ad campaign last Friday with several ads in various papers, including the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Observer and L.A. Weekly. The ads, printed in large black type against a white background, include such lines as: “If you had AIDS, you’d want someone to be researching a cure,” and “If the President had AIDS, he’d need more than just your vote.”
The effort was to raise awareness of World AIDS Day, on Dec. 1. The company contributed 40 percent of all purchases at the 18 freestanding Kenneth Cole boutiques that day to AmFAR, which came to about $30,000.

TIBOR SIGNS OFF: With the December-February issue of Colors, Benetton’s controversial in-house publication, editor Tibor Kalman bade farewell to Rome and Italy “after 1,295 bowls of pasta and 2,347 espressos,” as he wrote in his farewell letter. Kalman, who used to head the avant-garde graphic design studio M&Co., has moved back to New York and is looking for his next venture.
Oliviero Toscani, who oversees Colors, hasn’t replaced Kalman but still plans to move the magazine’s offices to Paris next year as part of the policy of rotating headquarters to keep the magazine truly multinational.

MIZRAHI’S NEW CITIZEN: Roman Alonso has been named to the new post of director of image and marketing for Isaac Mizrahi & Co. LP. He comes to the designer firm from Barneys New York, where he had been director of publicity. In the post, he will report to Nina Santisi, vice president of advertising and public relations.

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