Cover art for podcast The Institute of Black Imagination.

The Institute of Black Imagination.

34 EpisodesProduced by darioWebsite

Welcome to The Institute of Black Imagination hosted by artist, writer, and brand consultant Dario Calmese. Each week we bring you conversations from The Pool of Black Genius: a collection of iconoclasts at the leading edge of cultural thought and innovation. More than anything, we are here to inspi… read more


E7. André Leon Talley, Fashion Icon (part one).

Today’s episode is with titan of American fashion, André Leon Talley.

Raised in Durham North Carolina by his grandmother, Andre’s love for fashion began at an early age, with his discovery of magazines like Vogue and Harper Bazaar, giving him access to worlds and visions beyond the segregated Jim Crow South. A star student, Andre received a full scholarship to Brown University to study French literature, after completing his undergraduate degree at local HBCU, North Carolina Central University.

Although he came from humble beginnings, André’s meteoric rise through the editorial mastsheads of fashion's most prominent publications, speak not only to his fine-tuned intellect, but also a keen... social intelligence; navigating the dominantly white front rows of the fashion industry for decades. Beginning with an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with legendary fashion editor and life-long mentor, Diana Vreeland, he went on to work at Andy Warhol’s Factory and Interview magazine. Later stints at Women’s Wear Daily, W Magazine, and the The New York Times, prepared him for his influential role atop the masthead as creative director of American Vogue in 1988, making him the highest ranking Black person in fashion journalism.

In 2003 He published his first memoir, ALT, and his current book, “The Chiffon Trenches,” which offers a candid window into his professional and personal struggles, was released May of 2020. He currently sits on the Board of Trustees at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and his documentary, “The Gospel According to Andre” by director Kim Novak, was released in the US in 2018.

This conversation with Andre was recorded just two day ago, but felt so relevant and pressing that we decided to release part one for you today.  We speak of Andre’s life in the Jim Crow South, his introduction into America’s upper class at Brown University, how fashion served as armor to shield him his serial childhood sexual abuse, and I, for the first time publicly, speak of my own. Please enjoy Part ONE of this wide-ranging interview with my friend and Mentor, Andre Leon Talley.

Links we mention in the episode:

Andre's Instagram: @andreltalley
His Latest Book: The Chiffon Trenches

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Additional editorial content provided by Kalimah Small.

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