Friday, December 23, 2016

Andre Leon Talley adores Melania Trump!

It turns out, there was quite the shakeup among André Leon Talley’s friends earlier this year when he said some very nice things about one Melania Trump. “I hope there will be a great great Trump presidency,” he told the Daily Mail in November, adding that “Melania will be one of the great stars in the administration.”
Now, given that Talley is Vogue’s former editor-at-large/current contributing editor and that the magazine endorsed Hillary Clinton (a first for the publication), it’s understandable that his circle of friends might not have taken kindly to news of his remarks. In fact, in the interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Talley recounts how one of his friends wrote him an email saying, “Oh my God, you have gone to the Evil Empire!!!!!” But as Talley tells Dowd in the interview, he’s far from a being a supporter of Donald Trump and says he voted for Clinton in North Carolina after going “through hoops of fire” to get his absentee ballot. And while he’s not a fan of Mr. Trump, he still has some more (overall) nice things to say about Melania.
Here’s a sample of what he told the Times about the Trumps:
On how his stance differs depending the Trump in question:
“She’s a nice person. I do not endorse Trumpism on any level. So why can’t one be positive and want her to shine? I mean, it’s good she cares about napkins, crystal, dinner plates with gilded edges to the point of over the top, and abundant flower arrangements. In the end, why pick on her when they should be picking on her husband’s billionaire cabinet and his seeming readiness to turn the country back towards oppression, anti-Semitism, anti-culturalism, etc.”
On Melania’s style on the campaign:
“Melania, who opted at 3 a.m. for a palazzo jumpsuit, with one arm exposed and a flounce over the other — it seemed to me too Mar-a-Lago, a huge, full-volume jumpsuit. Trying too hard. And I am so tired of the long hair falling on both sides of her face. She has to upgrade her coiffure.”
On whether or not to judge Melania for her nude photos:
“You can’t judge a person by pictures. … She was a model. She took pictures.”
On what style Melania might bring to the White House:
“She has those impossibly high four-inch, towering stilettos,” he said. “Clearly, her clothes will cling in the right places, accentuate her figure and her model-style long tresses. Get ready for super-cinched waists, hourglass silhouettes and pencil skirts. She is already into one-shoulder, which Jackie Kennedy wore by Oleg Cassini. Melania likes monotone matching coats and beige dresses, but that hair will always be flying once she goes down the stairs of Air Force One.”
On Melania’s preference for privacy:
“She’s very private. She just wants to be a mother. It’s very similar to Jackie O, who also wanted to keep her kids out of the fray. When Barron was first born, she used to say: ‘I’m going off to play with Barron. I just want to spend time with Barron.’ So, in a way, I think that she’s maintaining her privacy with him and maintaining a kind of dignity because she’s not making statements. I don’t think that she would try to change the White House in any way. I don’t think that’s what she’s interested in.”
 But André has been going through a rough patch with his friends, and he needs a bit of carb comfort, as we listen to the morning medley soundtrack of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra in the lobby of the genteel Siena Hotel before he heads off to Duke for a more spartan breakfast in a no-frills cafeteria.
It’s my fault, too, because I’m pressing him on a sore subject he is reluctant to discuss: Melania Trump.
The 68-year-old, 6-foot-6 Monsieur Vogue, as he is known, cloaks his voluminous red puffer coat over his mountainous form, so that only his big brown eyes and navy Filson knit cap are showing.
“First of all,” he says, well aware of my fashion ignorance, “this is a Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat.”
Then he offers his declaration: “You make the choice to be in Trumpland or you make the choice to eject yourself from the horror of Trumpland. I’ve made my choice not to be part of Trumpland.”
But, I point out, Donald Trump was bragging on the trail only the day before that he had just had a meeting with André’s Vogue compadre and fellow Hillary supporter Anna Wintour. At first, André has a hard time believing that Ms. Wintour would venture anywhere near the dreaded Trump Tower. I have to actually show him the story and get it confirmed with the Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks. But finally he shrugs under his puffery.
“As for Anna Wintour going to Mr. Trump, she’s a powerful woman, she’s running an empire, she’s the editorial director of Condé Nast,” he says. “We can’t judge her for going to a meeting. She’s a professional, powerful woman. That’s all I have to say.”
I have flown here to see if André can shed some light on Melania, the sultry enigma of Trumpworld, the only reserved member of what is shaping up to be the most bellicose takeover in modern times. As everyone else rushes in to blow up the capital, as Ivanka shops for houses in Georgetown and office space at the White House, as headlines cascade about how Ivanka will be the real first lady, Melania has virtually disappeared. We see more of her doppelgänger on “Saturday Night Live"  than we do the real Slovenian Sphinx  who is hanging back in New York so her 10-year-old son, Barron, can finish the school year.
Melania’s absence from the stage has not stopped a raging battle in the fashion world about her — a sequel to the boycott during the campaign against Ivanka’s brand and a microcosm of the fight being replayed across the country about whether to “normalize” the Trumps or whether to keep shouting from the rooftops, “This is not normal!,” as my colleague Charles Blow urged this week.
André’s friend Tom Ford said he was not likely to dress the former fashion model and future first lady because “she’s not necessarily my image.” (Ford once spent time after a Helmut Newton memorial trying to get Melania to do something about the Donald’s hair, but Melania merely murmured in her Gabor accent, “I like him the way he is.”)Marc Jacobs told WWD  that he would rather put his energy “into helping out those who will be hurt by Trump and his supporters.”
 The French designer Sophie Theallet, a favorite of Michelle Obama’s, published an open letter saying she would not dress Melania to protest Donald Trump’s “rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia.” Other designers, like Tommy Hilfiger and Carolina Herrera, have riposted that they would be proud to dress the Trump women.
It is a particularly sensitive matter since Melania follows Michelle, beloved by the fashion world, as The New York Times’s Vanessa Friedman mentioned recently, for elevating the industry “beyond the superficial to the substantive,” by framing clothing “as a collection of values: diversity, creativity, entrepreneurship.” As David Yermack, a professor of finance at New York University, noted, Michelle was also a bonanza, generating $2.7 billion in a single year for the companies she showcased.
André has particular insight into Melania’s style since, while on Vogue assignment, he went to couture shows with her in Paris and helped her choose her Dior wedding gown, and later flew with her in white-leather splendor on the Trump plane as Donald scarfed down Oreos and talked about how Jude Law was no Cary Grant.
As André told me in the fall when I interviewed him, he came away impressed with the Trump women. He called Melania charming and private, “soignée and polished” with “impeccable” manners and legs that are “a long drink of water,” and said she had a gift for standing on four-and-a-half-inch stiletto heels. “She’s very much like a high, super, superglamorous Stepford Wife,” he told me.
He also said that she was the most fastidiously groomed and exquisitely moisturized person he’d ever met. (He now gives that honor to Kim Kardashian West.) At the Mar-a-Lago wedding, which he attended with Ms. Wintour, he noticed that “even then you could tell that Ivanka was going to be a very bright star. She had on a melon-colored dress.”
But André walked into a sartorial buzz saw when, amid buzz that he might be called on to give Melania advice about her Inaugural gown, recently to a Daily Mail reporter, saying that Melania was “a wonderful person to be with” and that she “will be one of the great stars in the administration.” He capped it off with optimism: “I hope there will be a great, great Trump presidency.”
It didn’t take long for the guillotine to fall. One friend emailed him, “Oh my God, you have gone to the Evil Empire!!!!!”

“I wish them the best,” André said. “I want suddenly to see that she has incredible style, wake up and say, ‘Oh my God, look, isn’t that great?’ I really do think that there’s hope. We have to wait and see. As Sergei Diaghilev told Jean Cocteau, ‘Astonish me.’ ”

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