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André Leon Talley Talks Honestly About Racism in Fashion

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Image via Getty
Image via Getty

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It's not easy being André Leon Talley. The former Vogue editor-at-large and current artistic director of Zappos Couture reflected on his storied career in an interview with Huffington Post Style, including his thoughts on diversity in the fashion world and the courage it takes to be yourself.

He tells Huff Post: "[But] when you think about the world, the world does not accept uniqueness, the world does not accept difference. Do you know how hard it is for me to come out wearing this? What some people consider a dress? What I'm wearing is a what men in North Africa wear everyday. It takes a lot of courage to get up and to be me. And I think it takes a lot of courage to even get up and face the world because the standards of the world aren't always necessarily my standards, but I live in the world of success, I live in the world of whiteness and success."

Talley also addressed racism in society and the one barrier he hasn't been able to break, saying:

And you know the world has really not changed and you have to be acutely aware of the world around you. One of the reasons that I think the world has not changed, being a black man, is that people try to look at me without color, but color is always there. The whole Ferguson situation was a throwback to me of the late fifties and growing up in the South and the civil rights era. This is always a permanent part of the American mainstream. And people do not feel comfortable addressing it. Therefore there are ceilings that I have not broken that I should have broken already and one is television. And it is always shocking to me how many people have tried to get me a television show of my own.

And just like the world hasn't changed, he says fashion hasn't changed in terms of diversity: "But I also must always look over my shoulder and see how many people have broken ceilings. How many people in the world of fashion have maintained these huge brands? Can you name a black designer that you know who has a huge brand? No. There is not one."

In lighter news, Talley describes what it's like to work with the ruthlessly efficient "visionary" Anna Wintour: "The first lunch that we had, which was a working lunch, we left the office at 12:45, we sat down at 1 o'clock and at 1:13 when I was just about to bite into my entree she said, 'Oh, that's it. Let's go back to the office. We have discussed everything.' She's quick at the draw and she knows firmly what she wants -- she doesn't need to mull over it. It was the shortest lunch I've ever had in my life."
Andre Leon Talley: 'There Are Ceilings That I Have Not Broken That I Should Have Broken' [HuffPo]
Here's André Leon Talley's Touching Eulogy for L'Wren Scott [Racked]
And Just Like That, André Leon Talley Quit Numeró Russia [Racked]
André Leon Talley Hinted That His Talk Show Might Not Happen [Racked]