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André Leon Talley bequeaths 'The Gospel According to André'

It's not everyday that one — especially as young, black and fabulous as myself — is able to look in the proverbial mirror and see what life could look like if racism, femme-phobia and other ills of the world fail to win. But that's exactly what took place Saturday as I interviewed fashion icon André Leon Talley (and director Kate Novack and producer Andrew Rossi) a day after his film, "The Gospel According to André," premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I first encountered Talley through the modeling competition reality show "America's Next Top Model." As a judge for four seasons, he commanded attention. With a deep yet feminine tremble in his voice paired with a towering 6-foot-6 frame cloaked in the finest custom capes and caftans, he was undeniable. But while Talley was, and is, legendary in his own right for breaking glass ceilings during his multi-decade stint at Vogue magazine, I was swept up in his presentation of self. The bombast, the grandeur, the unbridled audacity had my inner gender-bender clamoring for liberation from the traditional conceptions of black masculinity I grew up with. 

 

Los Angeles Times writer Tre'vell Anderson, left, speaks with fashion icon André Leon Talley. (Jen Yamato / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times writer Tre'vell Anderson, left, speaks with fashion icon André Leon Talley. (Jen Yamato / Los Angeles Times)

So, as he masterfully took over our festival photo studio, draped in a golden yellow caftan, I was in awe. My hands moist with excitement, I teetered on my 3-inch heels trying to grab a quick Snapchat video to document the moment. And then it hit me: This, at 67 years old, is what possibility looks like. 

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