In his new memoir The Chiffon Trenches, André Leon Talley opens up about his 30-year-friendship and notorious falling out with longtime Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. And now the fashion journalist and former editor-at-large of Vogue, 71, is sharing his candid thoughts about an internal email Wintour sent to Vogue staff members last week — which addressed the lack of diversity and "intolerant behavior" at Vogue as discussions calling out systemic racism remain at the forefront of the media landscape.
Talley joined actress and comedian Sandra Bernhard for an episode of SiriusXM’s Radio Andy, during which he brushed off Wintour's apology — that was first obtained by Page Six and published by several news outlets on Wednesday — as a reflection of her "white privilege" and shared his theory for what prompted his former boss to send the email.
"Recently, she who is the dame of American Vogue made a statement," Talley told Bernhard. "I want to say, also, as she made this statement, the announcement of the first Black female editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Samira [Nasr], that is news, ground-breaking. This has impacted [Wintour]."
Talley continued, "Clearly that statement comes because [Nasr] is going to run competition rings around her," further speculating that Wintour's "power-base has been somewhat affected by the competition of this young, African-American presence."
In her email, Wintour, 70, who serves as Condé Nast's artistic director and oversees Vogue, took "full responsibility" for not hiring enough Black creatives and acknowledged the hurt and pain Vogue employees of color must be feeling in the wake of George Floyd's death. But Talley said this just another example of her "entitled" attitude.
She continued: “I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”
The famed fashion editor — whose longstanding reputation for being intimidating was the inspiration behind Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada — promised to “do better” moving forward and encouraged Vogue staffers to share their concerns with her.
“It can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you. I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward. I am listening and would like to hear your feedback and your advice if you would like to share either."
“I am proud of the content we have published on our site over these past few days but I also know that there is much more work to do. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me directly. I am arranging ways we can discuss these issues together candidly, but in the meantime, I welcome your thoughts or reactions.”
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