In an upcoming memoir titled The Chiffon Trenches, former Vogue editor André Leon Talley, holds nothing back in his scathing criticism of his former boss, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. In excerpts on the Daily Mail, Talley describes her as the ultimate clout chaser in a section that reads, “She is immune to anyone other than the powerful and famous people who populate the pages of Vogue.”
While Talley concedes Wintour loves her two children, in his opinion she otherwise only cares about status, an obsession that led to the demise of their friendship. “She has mercilessly made her best friends people who are the highest in their chosen fields,” he writes, and adds, “Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Mr. and Mrs. George Clooney are, to her, friends. I am no longer of value to her.”
Talley first began working with Wintour at U.S. Vogue in 1983 and in the book admits he was initially intimidated by her. While they went their separate ways for a period, Wintour hired Talley as a creative director when she was made editor-in-chief of U.S. Vogue in 1988.
Sensing he was being frozen out of the magazine’s best assignments, in 1995 he left the magazine in a huff, but made up with Wintour not long after at the funeral for her mother, Eleanor Trego Baker, in 1995.
He returned to Vogue as editor at large, a period of time when his weight began to balloon out of control. Talley’s weight was viewed as enough of his danger to his health that Wintour staged an intervention, forcing to him to enter a weight-loss clinic in North Carolina.
While he continued to struggle with controlling his weight, in 2015 he was provided the opportunity by the publication to launch a podcast, which started off with a promising list of guests. Complaining about the paltry pay of $500 per episode, he wrote, “My car service bills cost that much and more for a round-trip from White Plains to One World Trade Center, where the Vogue office is based.”
The podcast was ended without explanation, an outcome Talley attributed to Wintour’s propensity for “sphinx-like silence.” Writing on the impact of her frosty behavior, Talley wrote, “Today, I would love for her to say something human and sincere to me. I have huge emotional and psychological scars from my relationship with this towering and influential woman.”
The end of his days with Vogue came when in 2018 the publication chose not to bring him back to conduct Met Gala red carpet interviews. Talley was replaced by 24-year-old YouTube star Liza Koshy.
Lamenting Vogue editor Grace Coddington‘s loss of comped stays at the Ritz Hotel and access to chauffeured town cars and editor Polly Mellen’s retirement party being held in the basement of Barneys, Talley wrote, “You are dismissed without ceremony, like in the court of the Sun King…it is not a place of great empathy for humanity.”
Just two years ago, Talley’s view on Wintour was much more even-handed. In a NY Times interview promoting his documentary “The Gospel According to André,” while he took Miuccia Prada to task for abandoning their friendship, when asked about Wintour, he stated, “Most days, she treats me like family. I know she cares for me deeply. But other days, she treats me like the proverbial black sheep, that family member who is left out, shut out, to be avoided.”