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A.L.T.: A Memoir Hardcover – April 8, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
What influences shape a fashionista? For Vogue editor-at-large Talley (born in 1949), the answer is simple: his grandmother Bennie Davis and empress of style Diana Vreeland. In his heartfelt, occasionally affected remembrance, the Southern-born African-American admits he had little experience with Vreeland's brand of luxury but enjoyed "an innate understanding of it," thanks to his grandmother's meticulous sense of propriety. Indeed, his memoir, an homage to two extraordinary women, is less an autobiography than a eulogy. The women's mutual love of polish is "evidence of a deeper philosophy-the primacy of home and the importance of spending time in its service." Talley is a keen observer, and his book salutes beauty and its practitioners from his grandmother to Karl Lagerfeld. He's at his best, however, when recalling his Durham, N.C., childhood, his devoted father and life in a segregated South. He renders tales of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, family reunions and life during the Civil Rights movement in sumptuous detail. Yet Talley is equally awed by Vreeland, Halston and Mica Ertegun, among his pantheon of fashion royalty, and he considers it a privilege just to sit at their tables. Vreeland, his mentor, enjoys a special place in his heart, and he waxes rhapsodic about her talent as fashion icon and director of the Met's Costume Institute. Between these personal salutes, he details a 30-year hitch in the chiffon trenches, from glam parties and unimagined opulence to the generosity of friends. If Talley has one message, it's "Style transcends race, class, and time." His memoir, though saccharine in spots, is sincere.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
How a 6' 7" African American man with an M.A. in French studies from Brown became a leading light at Vogue.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The grandiose Talley that we see in the fashion magazines and on television is somewhat toned down in A.L.T.. Talley's charm can clearly be linked back to his southern roots. Talley's grandmother was always well dressed and made sure that he was also. Having a sense of being properly dressed at an early age, it was no surprise that around age nine Talley began a lifelong affinity with Vogue Magazine.
After not quite fitting in throughout his school years,Talley fell right in with a group of stylish, WASPs that were attending the Rhode Island School of Design while he was attending Brown University. Soon Talley left Brown for New York and his rise up the fashion latter began.
While in New York Talley met Diana Vreeland, former editor of Vogue, she became Talley's fashion mentor and lifelong friend. Talley cherished Vreeland's friendship as much as he did his grandmother's love. Other fashion luminaries were also scattered throughout the story such as Halston, Oscar De La Renta, Anna Wintour, Andy Warhol, and Karl Lagerfield. Of course the infamous Studio 54 was mentioned.
Talley played it safe in A.L.T.. There were no major revelations or scandals. Talley is really a down to earth southern gentleman despite his larger than life presence. He spoke fondly of his father but his mother was rarely mentioned. One could mistake this as a biography of Diana Vreeland because Talley made her ever present throughout the book. I found A.L.T. to be vague with no depth.