There’s a new book out about the world of high fashion, a realm as foreign to most of us as planet Saturn. André Leon Talley’s book The Chiffon Trenches is different, though. For one thing, it reportedly dishes dirt on Anna Wintour, a woman who made her way to the top of the world in large part because she edits Vogue, a magazine best described as a picture book for grownups.
Admittedly Wintour is uber-connected in the world of national politics. Vogue caters to that crowd because that’s who can afford those ridiculous dresses and suits you might wear once because yes, they do look ridiculous.
What I do enjoy is reading Talley’s accounts. He’s not ashamed to say good things about his Southern roots. Because most elitists in media and entertainment do a goodly amount of South-bashing, I’m always happy to see someone express positivity about my homeland.
Most who keep up with the political class are already aware Wintour isn’t a very likable person. The New York Post, in a writeup about Talley’s memoir, cites what Wintour told a pundit on the Op-Ed TV show 60 Minutes:
“Wintour did herself no favors by telling Safer what she thought of the average American fashion consumer. “I had just been on a trip to Minnesota,” she said, “where I can only kindly describe most of the people I saw as little houses.”
Wintour is stick thin, so it’s likely anyone who isn’t a size zero looks like a “little house” to her. We shouldn’t be surprised at her dismissal of those folks in Minnesota, though. Wintour’s entire life is based on appearance, not substance. The only thing that counts to people like her, unless you have something she needs, is surface. Depth is so cliché these days.
Ironically the political party Wintour is warmly welcomed by needs those “little houses” and in fact, that party eagerly seeks votes from those constituents Wintour appears to consider of no value.
Talley appears to have served Wintour well, and when she no longer needed him, she did what most powerful people, regardless of political affiliation, do. She discarded him.
Frankly I think there’s never been a better opportunity for indie designers, even those on a small local scale. My sister-in-law Jill Phillips is a perfect example. When she looks at a piece of fabric, she doesn’t see what most of us do—a blob of cloth. She sees a garment or accessory and she can stitch up what she sees in her head. My mother was that way too.
There’s a great deal of opportunity now, I think, for indie designers of all types.
Many of us have little in common with what amounts to the United States’ royal class. There is a wide gulf between regular Americans and those seated in thrones of power. I hope to read Talley’s book and do a review at some point, once I clear out content in the queue here.
How will The Chiffon Trenches impact Wintour? Probably not very much. I will say that if her consults on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign didn’t take Wintour down, nothing much will. At times Mrs. Clinton appeared to be wearing a rug, and the contrast between then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance and Clinton’s appearance was visually shattering.
Talley is being depicted as sticking a knife in Wintour’s back, but I think it’s quite the reverse. She protected her turf and when her financials didn’t suit, she tossed him aside. It’s what people like Wintour do, and it’s a reminder such people often get little respect from those “little houses” Wintour sneered at.
(Kay B. Day/May 19, 2020)
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