Fashion Icon To Receive France’s Highest Honor In The Arts

Give people their flowers while they’re here – a philosophy I believe that we should all embrace. And apparently, so does France! The country is gearing up to give one of its highest honors in art to a Fashion veteran.

André Leon Talley in Paris, France

The former Editor-at-Large of American Vogue, André Leon Talley is set to receive the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres – a prestigious honor bestowed on individuals who have significantly contributed to the arts in France. The 72-year old fashion icon was contacted by France’s minister of culture Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin to be informed of the honor.

Established in 1957 to recognize artists and writers, as well as others who have contributed significantly to the arts in France, the Order of Arts and Letters has been awarded to many innovative artists and game changers alike. Tina Turner, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, James Baldwin, Lee Radziwill amongst many others have received the prestigious honor – and now joining their company, is the former creative director  of American Vogue.

Talley told WWD that he was totally surprised by the honor and he had no idea he was even in the running for the award.

“I was totally surprised. Listen. It was the best day of my life. I say that with sincerity to be a commanding officer of the de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France, and to be recognised by the Republic of France is a great honour.”

The American fashion journalist has quite the history with France. His obvious travels for Paris Fashion Week, a plethora of European designer friends and colleagues that reside across the pond and his pure love for French culture has lead him to believe that he is a “custodian of France.”

Talley with designer Azzedine Alaia in Paris

Talley earned a Bachelors degree in French Literature at Carolina Central University and a Master of Arts degree in the same field from Brown University. He also lived in France from 1978 to 1980, while working for Women’s Wear Daily magazine. A well received article that Talley wrote on fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent established his fashion journalism career and boosted his status in the upper echelon fashion circles of France. He again lived in France from 1989-1995.

When asked about his contributions to the Arts in France, Talley told WWD that he has always appreciated the culture and style of France.

“I am a person who has appreciated the relevancy of France — the culture, the history, and every aspect of refinement, style, architecture, gardens, fashion, haute cuisine, Versailles, churches, the history — even its bad history, i.e., the revolution and the guillotine. I think I am a custodian of France.”

I think the honor is well deserved, as Talley has stated that he has always had such an affinity for the European country.

“I am a person who has appreciated the relevancy of France – the culture, the history, and every aspect of refinement, style, architecture, gardens, fashion, haute cuisine, Versailles, churches, the history – even its bad history, i.e., the revolution and the guillotine. I think I am a custodian of France”.

While it is certainly a time to celebrate this achievement (although the award ceremony has yet to be announced), Talley still has a lot on his plate here in America. The 72 year old is battling an arduous eviction process – as he is being sued by the homeowner of his White Plains, NY home.

George Malkemus (who is Sarah Jessica Parker’s business partner in her shoe-line), has filed to evict the Vogue veteran – claiming that he is “hundreds of thousands of dollars” behind on rent payments. Malkemus purchased the 11 bedroom home for one million dollars.

Talley filed a counterclaim, stating that he has paid almost a million dollars in rental payment that was used to cover the maintenance of the house and property.

Talley with George Malkemus (left) and Sarah Jessica Parker (center)

Full of ups and downs, these sort of things may keep life interesting for some – but Talley is looking forward to his award to be a highlight. He stated that the upcoming honor is keeping him optimistic about the future and that it’ll be the bright light at the end of tunnel.

Well deserved André Leon Talley, Félicitations!


All images courtesy of André Leon Talley’s Instagram

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