The Gospel According to André – Review [Tribeca 2018]

The Gospel According to Andre is playing at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Find screening information HERE. Hits theaters May 25th.

The Gospel According to André, a documentary directed by Kate Novack, tells the story of André Leon Talley, an icon in the fashion world for more than 40 years. The film traces his life from his youth in North Carolina, growing up in the years before the civil rights movement, through his master’s degree at Brown University to his introduction to and rise through the New York fashion scene. It’s an interesting look at the life of a most unusual individual and at the people he became close to during his career.

Raised by his grandmother, Talley gained a sense of style early on from the aristocratic way she carried herself. He recalls the hats she wore and how she believed “it was a moral code to dress well.” He began reading Vogue early on and was fortunate to meet editor Diana Vreeland as young student. She took him under her wing and he flourished. After a stint at Interview magazine, and at Women’s Wear Daily in Paris, he joined Vogue in 1983. He served as news director, creative director, and, finally, editor-at-large, until 2013.

The film, with its combination of old photos, dated video clips and current interviews with both Talley and colleagues like Anna Wintour, provides the viewer with a true sense of this larger than life (both literally and figuratively) character. One also gets a small taste of what it meant to be a black man in the industry. An added treat is seeing all the outfits Talley has worn over the years.

Anyone fascinated with fashion and couture will enjoy this film. Its mix of humor and nostalgia keeps this biopic interesting and pertinent. One gets a sense that there is an even deeper story waiting to be told that lies just underneath the surface. Only at one point do we see Talley get emotional and hint at the difficulties he encountered in his career. It appears that the filmmaker did not want to probe too hard and cause Tally any distress. It’s a shame we don’t get to see more, as it would have added to an already captivating film.

I give The Gospel According to André an A-.

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