ROPES Book Awards: Aoibheann’s pick!
Aoibheann’s pick: The Chiffon Trenches
André Leon Talley
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2020
André Leon Talley’s memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, invites the reader into the life of one of the biggest players in fashion. The former editor-at-large of US Vogue dishes on various scandals, including his fierce friendships and notable enemies. The once righthand man of Anna Wintour finally bares all.
Raised in the segregated south by his grandmother and great-grandmother, there is a sense of needing a mother figure to fill the gap left by his own. There are heartbreaking hints to a craving to please various mother figures in Talley’s life whilst simultaneously being afraid to disappoint them.
Talley gives readers a keen sense of his personality from the offset, explaining how his favourite thing to do as a child was to pore over the glossy pages of Vogue in his local library. An ever-present force in his life, Vogue instilled a love of all things French which no doubt assisted him in deciding on his original life plan to become a French teacher at a private school. However, even while studying at Brown University, Talley was a “fashion addict, dramatic in attire and appearance, even then.” The thread of Vogue is sewn so explicitly throughout his life that it seems destined for him to have become one of the most influential men in fashion through most of the 1970’s to 2000’s.
The Chiffon Trenches provides the readers with insights into Talley’s dealings with other fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfield and Diana von Furstenberg as well as his personal opinions on various fashion houses. This memoir is a class act in name-dropping. Combining this with his conversational writing style, the reader is encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the world of fashion. He possesses an ease of writing that encourages even the most fashion illiterate of readers into his world. (Also, the mastery to which he casually inserts a catty comment is an art form in itself.)
A perfectly juicy read for lounging in the sun or curled up by the fire. If you’ve ever felt the desire to explore what goes on behind the glossy pages of your favourite fashion magazines this book is a must read.