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The Gospel According To André

The story of longtime Vogue Editor-at-large André Leon Talley

The Gospel According To André asks: how did a tall, loud, gay African-American man who grew up poor in the Jim Crow-era South ascend to the upper echelons of the fashion world? Race is still an issue in the fashion business, so in profiling fashion editor André Leon Talley, best known for his work with Vogue, director Kate Novack also provides an instructive view on the broader culture. The resulting film is funny, inspiring and heartbreaking.

Poster for the fashion-world doc The Gospel According To AndréThis is a straightforward biopic that benefits from great access to a subject who can be as gregarious as he is aloof. The doc recounts Talley’s childhood and close relationship with his grandmother in segregated North Carolina. Reading Vogue in the public library became a form of escapism and the few images there were of black models suggested possibility. By the time he moved to New York City, and later Paris, his work ethic, ability to speak French, strong sense of self, and deep knowledge of global style history propelled him forward.

The central irony is that Talley has unforgettable presence and style, but has succeeded in life partially through his measured approach. Novack touches on masculinity, friendship, career-versus-romance and raises tough questions, but doesn’t always go for the jugular, taking a lead from Talley. What we’re left with is a sense of how he must move in order to succeed in a world that has historically been exclusionary.

– Kevin Ritchie, NOW Toronto

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