Photo Credit: CW
A prerequisite for joining the persnickety world of America's Next Top Model: fabulousness. Also: ability to coin fake words that bolster the fashion lexicon. For example, why use four words ("smile with your eyes") when you can use one ("smize")?
In both areas, André Leon Talley fits the bill. The editor at large at Vogue debuts tonight on The CW's hit modeling competition (at 8 p.m. ET) as Miss J. Alexander's replacement on the judging panel.
Talley is a style maven with attitude -- but his imperious vibe is mostly playful. He's catty, sure, but he looks askance at fashionistas who take themselves too seriously.
"I learned everything that I know about fashion from my grandmother," he said recently in an interview with NBC New York. "My grandmother was a domestic maid, but she had the best style. When she got dressed on Sunday morning in her best shoes, her best suits, it was style…Then I came to New York, I worked with Andy Warhol, and I met the great, great iconic [Vogue] editor Diana Vreeland, who taught me that the inside of clothes was just as important as the outside."
When asked what he disliked about the fashion business, he replied, "The substance is put on the back burner for the perception…It's toxic. It's so toxic! It's a toxic volcano always erupting. It's people who—they have goodness, they have families—but they think when they're in the front row [at runway shows], that they're all that and a bag of chips. Uh-uh. You're just lucky!"
Talley arrives at ANTM with a catchphrase at the ready: “‘Dreckitude’ was whipped out when I thought the challenge was not met or if [the contestants] showed up in perhaps an outfit that I just couldn’t wrap my mind around,” he explained to New York magazine. “I was constantly repulsed by the complete popularity of what I call the Cult of the Ugly Shoe — that is, a very clodhopper, high platform-y, clunky-clunk sort of shoe, which they would favor. And I kept saying to them, ‘You can also be very elegant in a Sabrina flat.’”
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