On Tuesday night I stopped by the Nordstrom pre-opening party in Downtown Crossing. This was a soiree intended to get Boston fashionistas excited about the arrival of Nordstrom at the Natick Mall, um, Collection. I got to chat with Pete Nordstrom and eat cheesecake on a stick -- but not at the same time, of course.
I was most excited, however, to sit down and chat with Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley. He was there with two assistants from Vogue who helped keep his rabid fans in check.. including me.
I had an opportunity to sit with Talley for an extended period of time and ask about all kinds of things, but mostly about the Judy Jetson-esque bolero jacket that he helped Jennifer Hudson pick for the Oscars earlier this year.
(the conversation picks up where it ends in today's Style Spy)
Talley: Jennifer was making a statement with her Oscar dress. I felt that she was as dignified as Lena Horne in her heyday. I wanted to dress her as a young African American woman of great dignity and style, and she has great style.
Kirsten Dunst had the most beautiful Chanel dress. She got flak on her beautiful sea foam green Chanel dress. If you don’t adhere to the rules, forget it. I still think that Jennifer looked fabulous, and she’ll remember that night forever.
Stylephile: Was she comfortable with the dress and the choice?
Talley: Oh yes, she was very comfortable with the choice. But it was turned all around once she got her Oscar. That’s not her fault. The whole thing was spinning out of control based on some negative energy, and I can only say that it comes from Hollywood. But I’m still happy with it, and I think it was the right choice.
Stylephile:Do you feel like you helped break down the Hollywood fashion rules with Jennifer’s dress?
Talley: Oh yes. I hope to have contributed in some way to that. I feel that I have tried to set the bar very high. I feel that, even though I may have gotten negative comments this year, in four years or five years from now people will be trying to dress that way. I feel very confident in my choices. The brown was beautiful on her. The gold jacket was beautiful on her. No one liked the gold jacket, but it was shown with the dress, it was part of the look. The dress and the jacket are together, and she’s young enough to carry it off.
If you have real style, you’re often going to be criticized. Every time Kirsten Dunst appeared this year, she was criticized for her fashion choices. So when you dare to be original and individual, someone’s not going to like it.
Stylephile: It sounds like you and Jennifer have a great friendship too.
Talley: We do. I feel that it is my responsibility to be her surrogate uncle of fashion, and I take that responsibility with a great deal of seriousness.
Stylephile: Have you been approached by other young actresses in Hollywood who want you to be their mentor?
Talley: No. I have not. No one’s ever come to me and said, “Would you dress me?” No one. But I’m happy to say that Starr Jones asked me about my opinion on a new look for her new television show. She’s going to have a TV show five days a week. She took me to lunch and said “What look should I avoid?” I told her, and she was very appreciative.
What did you tell her?
It’s a secret. Top secret.
Stylephile: Are you allowed to say who your favorite designers are?
Talley: I would say, unequivocally, that the top would be Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Miuccia
Prada, Marc Jacobs, Isabel Toldeo.
Stylephile: Which shows are you most looking forward to seeing this September at Fashion Week in New York?
Talley: I always find something good in everybody’s show. I look forward to the season as much as the individual shows. What I’m most looking forward is Paris and Milan. Because no matter what anyone says, the drumbeat of original fashion starts in Europe. There are great designers in New York, but you really have to go to Europe to get innovative fashion. There’s something about being in Milan or Paris. It must be in the water or the air. America’s very nuts and bolts.