Between his impressive resume and eccentric personality, Andre Leon Talley has solidified himself as the reigning swag lord of the fashion industry. But it wasn’t an easy road to the top for the 64-year-old artistic director of Zappos Couture.
In a recent interview with Huffington Post Style, Talley reflected on his illustrious career and how the lack of diversity in the fashion world proved to be one of his biggest challenges. From working as Andy Warhol’s assistant to becoming editor-at-large for Vogue, he stresses that it took an incredible amount of courage to be a part of an industry that continues to struggle with race and acceptance.
“[The] world does not accept uniqueness, the world does not accept difference,” Talley tells HuffPost. “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 goes on to explain that despite the liberal-minded attitude the industry tries to portray, it is not immune to prejudice and discrimination: “How many African-American or any diverse ethnic individuals do you have at the heads of any of the high niche magazines or high niche design brands? You can count them on one finger. How many people are there that have broken the glass ceiling? There are very, very few.”
Though he has built an unrivaled career, Talley asserts there are still barriers to overcome as a black man in his line of work. But he insists that nothing will change until people stop ignoring the issue.
“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,” he says. “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.”
With a larger-than-life personality like Talley’s, it’s surprising that his rumored late-night talk show has not yet come to fruition. Here’s hoping he eventually makes that breakthrough, which will no doubt pave the way for other minorities in the business.
To read the full interview, head over to HuffingtonPost.
[via Huffington Post]