" He was so many things, he wasn't supposed to be ," says Whoopi Goldberg at one point in this fascinating documentary about André Leon Talley. He was so many things he wasn't supposed to be. Because if you grew up as a black man in the 50s and 60s in Durham, North Carolina, where racial segregation applied at the time, for heaven's sake didn't also have to dress flashily and be homosexual. Talley was both - and still became the "giant" of the fashion scene. And not just because it measures almost two meters. Documentary filmmaker Kate Novack, who has already portrayed New York gourmets with her camera, shows how extraordinary he and his story are in “The Gospel According to André”. Raised by his grandmother and of modest means, Talley was drawn to the repertoire of styles and the glamor of fashion from an early age. His weekly highlights as a child and teen were going to church on Sundays, for which all the women in the community dressed up elaborately, and secretly leafing through the city library's fashion magazines.
Bullied by other youngsters and called the “Queen Kong” – a time that still brings tears to his eyes – Talley knew early on that New York was his calling. He was soon working for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine and was a permanent guest at the legendary Studio 54. "He was probably the only one who didn't come for the sex or the drugs, but to dance," notes author Fran Lebowitz in the film dry. A turning point in his career came when Diana Vreeland, then advising the Metropolitan Museum, took him under her wing. To this day, Talley, who is on first terms with everyone, respectfully calls her "Mrs. Vreeland".
The Vreeland school paid off. When Anna Wintour took over Vogue in 1983, it was Talley on whose vast knowledge of fashion history she relied. The unorthodox dream couple became the heartbeat of US "Vogue" for three decades and thus set the trend for the entire industry. In the film, the otherwise distant Wintour speaks of Talley with warmth and respect. And he's not alone: Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Diane von Fuerstenberg and Manholo Blanik also come out as Talley fans. Old friends and confidants from his hometown of Durham also have their say. When you witness this journey as a viewer, how the boy who surreptitiously leafed through Vogue became its chief editor, you believe when he says: "I don't live for fashion, I live for beauty and style." "