BOX SEATS FOR SERENA: Wth 73 singles titles, Serena Williams is accustomed to having a good number of fans in her corner and that appeared to hold serve Wednesday morning, during her Q&A with Anna Wintour.
Wearing a “Dapper Dan”-embossed gold-embroidered caftan, André Leon Talley had prime seating in the center of Spring Place. Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean-Raymond also sailed in to listen to what the 23-time Grand Slam champion had to say and to be among the first to see the S by Serena spring collection. Before 13 models stepped out for a brief presentation, Williams described the effort as “a fantastic, different, small collection.” She also noted there were vegan leather styles — a sign of her company’s commitment to sustainability.
Afterward, Jean-Raymond said while he does not know Williams personally, he does know Wintour, who invited him while at a dinner last week. “I’m obviously a huge fan of Serena’s so I just came out to support. She takes a very different approach than most celebrities, who kind of dabble in the fashion space. She really employs good friends of mine like Kesha McLeod. People who really know the space and have helped her elevate the brand, the collections and her endeavors in fashion with the times. I think it’s really beautiful, and a really good way of putting a presentation together, and engaging people at the same time,” the designer said.
Just back from attending last weekend’s Oscars in Los Angeles, Jean-Raymond checked out Christopher John Rogers’ show, as well as his friends Prabal Gurung’s and Brandon Maxwell’s shows. “I tend to support my contemporaries — the people who I feel are in the same class as me. They’re like my friends. There is a small cohort of us designers who hang out on a regular basis, so I go to all of my friends’ shows,” Jean-Raymond said.
As for the Oscars, Jean-Raymond said, “Pretty good — I mean the after parties were good…I didn’t care about the awards. They were very underrepresented. So, I was like whatever, it was kind of a boring thing. I think the real magic was in the after parties, seeing everybody come together and talk about their plans for how they’re going to change things, and what new projects they’re working on. And to just dance and get a nice outfit off.”
Williams had even more of a die-hard supporter in Talley, who first met her at Vogue, when she was 19 embarking on fashion school. “She was already a big, emerging tennis star, when she was going to fashion school in Florida. I’ve been so supportive of her, her mother, her father and her entire family throughout her entire career. I haven’t seen her since before she had the baby [Olympia] so I was very happy to be here.
“I wanted to support her because I think she is doing a great thing with her initiatives. And she’s still a great champion. I’m very happy that she’s got a beautiful marriage. I love [her mother] Oracene [Price], I love her sisters and I love Venus. They have absolutely been phenomenal for the tennis world as well as the black cultural world. That’s why I wanted to come. I’m very proud to be here and I was very proud to see her flourish.”
Talley also enthused about the S by Serena collection, especially a gold lamé-type evening suit and giraffe-inspired dresses. “This was not a collection of trends, but what she likes. There was diversity and curvaciousness. There was great curvaciousness. I loved that…It’s who she is. She’s proud. She’s a proud black woman,” Talley said.
Talley will soon be speaking more about his own story. His memoir “The Chiffon Trenches” will be published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in April.