I must confess that, save for a few articles I wrote about this year’s New York Fashion Week, the fashion industry isn’t something I’ve had much exposure to. However, Magnolia Pictures’ The Gospel According To Andre, a documentary about one of the most famous trail blazers in fashion, interested me as a means to help me learn.


André Leon Talley is one of the fashion industry’s figureheads and the former editor-at-large for Vogue. As his documentary demonstrates, he’s also blessed with a flamboyant personality and charm. The Gospel According To Andre is split into four different chapters, all of which showcase Talley’s growth and his eccentric nature. The film recounts Talley’s years, interjecting it with footage showing him in the modern day. 


If you’re looking for a synopsis of Talley’s life, this film will deliver that. We learn about the fashion mogul’s southern roots with his grandmother and church. Afterwards, we walk with him through his education to New York and Paris, learning how his background informed his career and character. Talley and many of his lifelong associates are interviewed on camera too, and our snapshots of Talley in the present add relatability to the legendary figure; we witness him visit his local Duke Diet & Fitness Center, for example, and we see the anxiety he felt during the 2016 presidential election.

However, while director Kate Novack did a fine job condensing her subject’s 68 years into one and a half hours, the documentary nevertheless feels more like a primer. We do catch glimpses of his unique perspective — towards the end of Gospel, Talley opens up about the racial slurs people hurled at him as he climbed the ranks — but these emotions never get delved into as far as they could have before the topic changes. And, given how infectious Talley’s passion for his craft is, It would’ve been nice to have been treated to more footage, archival or otherwise, showcasing him in his element. Speaking as someone who was interested in learning about and from one of the fashion industry’s patriarchs, I left feeling as though I only scratched the surface.

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