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Summary

Discover what truly happens behind the scenes in the world of high fashion in this detailed, storied memoir from fashion icon and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley.

During André Leon Talley's first magazine job assisting Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decade's long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, Talley moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild's Women's Wear Daily, befriending fashion's most important designers. But as Talley made friends, he also made enemies. A racially tinged encounter with a member of the house of Yves Saint Laurent sent him back to New York and into the offices of Vogue under Grace Mirabella. There, he developed an unlikely but intimate friendship with Anna Wintour, and as she rose to the top of Vogue's masthead, Talley became the most influential man in fashion.

The Chiffon Trenches is a candid look at the who's who of the last 50 years of fashion and proof that fact is always devilishly more fascinating than fiction. André Leon Talley's engaging and detailed memoir is his story of surviving and thriving in the notoriously cutthroat fashion industry amidst racism, homophobia and other challenges to become one of the most legendary voices and faces in fashion journalism.

©2020 André Leon Talley (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"A memoir on thriving and surviving the cut-throat fashion industry amid racism and homophobia, The Chiffon Trenches charts Talley’s rise from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most influential men in fashion. From Talley’s first job assisting Andy Warhol at a fashion magazine, to his friendships with the late Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour, The Chiffon Trenches makes for captivating reading for fashion fans and beyond." (Another Magazine)

"What he gives us, ultimately, is a circus the likes of which, given present circumstances, we may never see again. My advice is to do as I did: apply a good squirt of Fracas to your wrists, and sit back and enjoy the lunatic ride." (Observer, Book of the Week)

"Ideal reading material for anyone who found The Devil Wears Prada addictive but now needs a stronger hit. It is brimful of toxic behaviour and noxious values, which makes it perfect consolation, too, for lockdown." (Daily Telegraph)

What listeners say about The Chiffon Trenches

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  • M
  • 20-07-20

Thank goodness Mr Leon Talley narrated this excellent book, as it truly brings the stories to life.

What a wonderful, genuine, honest and fascinating account of Mr Leon Talley’s experiences. This book gives you a unique insight into the golden era of fashion journalism; whilst also coming from a place of authenticity and true joy the author experienced from both his career, mentors and friends. What is refreshing about Mr Leon Talley’s book, is that he speaks candidly, yet with great respect. An eccentric, brave and inspiring book. I particularly liked an ending message, where Mr Leon Talley clarifies that in life, kindness and love are of the upmost importance.

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Andre is my new fantasy dinner party guest!

I absolutely loved this book, it is peppered with fascinating glimpses into the lives of the most famous people in fashion and art. ALT was on the front row for all of it and tells you his story like he is chatting to you on his couch. I often wondered who the enormously tall and stylish chap was sitting with Anna Wintour was and now I know and I’m a little bit in love with him.

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A lot of name dropping and little story

You don't learn much in this book, there is a lot of name dropping. I appreciate the insight in the fashion world, but it was maybe too superficial.

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So much detail

This is a really good Memoir. It's always better to hear a memoir being read by the author, but Andre walks you through the Chiffon Trenches and describes everyone's clothes and character so well that you feel as though your walking with him.

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Honest, insightful & fashionable.

From his days as a child, working with Andy Warhol, to how he got to Vogue. His experiences with Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell, Karl Lagerfeld, Grace Coddington and YSL to name a few.
It was interesting to hear of the struggles and barriers of not just a black man, but also a black LGBTQ+ man of a certain age and the determination to be successful and powerful.

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Great details

Lovely and very detailed description of people's attires. Even some of my no fashion connoisseur friends still enjoyed the extensive fashion vocabulary used in this book, WONDERFUL 👏

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Scathing and scandalous

If you loved The Vanity Fair Diaries you will go gaga for this. ALT does not hold back as he dishes the dirt on all the biggest fashion industry insiders, but also writes movingly about how traumatic childhood experiences shaped his adult life and career. His distinctive voice and narration make the audiobook all the more enjoyable.

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Don't bother

It's basically a long winded name dropping exercise, it's so cringeworthy. As for delivery, to say he boasts of speaking french fluently, his english pronunciation of some words throughout is mumbled and unclear.

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Fabulous

Andre is iconic. A true fashion genius, with so many stories to tell. I loved every minute of it.

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Really a pure enjoyment

Beautiful details from an insider with his own touch and eyes,,, a true lover of style and fashion creation

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-03-21

deeply moved and impressed

One would think André would be superficial. Not in the least. When I finished the book I just thought wha brilliant man! I highly recommend André's autobiography as it doesn't only demonstrate eloquence and style, but also reflects a wonderful sense of humour, kindness and humanity. What a humble and generous man. I had no idea!
If I had to sum up his book, I'd say that it is an homage to love, friendship and to an insatiable curiosity and passion for life and everything that is beautyful.
This audiobook is not only suitable for fashion victims, but for everyone. I would even go as far as saying that it is an incredibly important read for anyone who wants to understand modern culture and it's challenge to preserve meaning. André is a fountain of knowledge and sums up the past 50 years of popular culture and fashion in a way that is gripping, exciting, warm, relevant, gentle, attentive and yet absolutely fierce and bolt. I don't think this book contains even just a dull second!
It is also an important and necessary read for anyone who wants to understand the role, position and situation as well as challenges of people of colour in arts, culture and fashion right now. He reminds us not to take our liberties for granted and honours the significance and importants of certain black men and women who influence our current lifes.
Times are changing and we can hardly keep up understanding why because it happens so fast. This also applies to the world of fashion and popular culture. André's book makes one understand the influence of digitalisation on our life's better, without being negative or resentful. He doesn't make any predictions, but embraces all the change that's happening. His gaze and perspective is a always a perspective of positivity, love, strong faith and hope!