Andre Leon Talley wants you to know—in no uncertain terms—that his longtime friendship with Anna Wintour is over. She didn’t call him on his birthday.
“Simple human kindness. No, she is not capable,” he writes. “She is immune to anyone other than the powerful and famous people who populate the pages of Vogue... I am no longer of value to her.”
The former creative director and editor-at-large of Vogue and well-known fashion tastemaker scorched his former boss in his new memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, according to an excerpt obtained by The Daily Mail.
“Anna is so powerful and busy; she simply put me out of her existence. Now she treats me as a former employee, brief greetings, never anything more than perfunctory salutations,” he writes, describing her later as “ruthless.”
Calling her “empress Wintour,” he continues: “I wonder, when she goes home alone at night, is she miserable? Does she feel alone?”
The 70-year-old said he felt “thrown to the curb” by the famously frosty Vogue editor, known as the implicit inspiration of The Devil Wears Prada and sometimes referred to as “Nuclear Wintour” in the tabloids.
The two are, according to Talley, only in cursory contact with one another despite decades of friendship since they started working together in 1983.
Talley followed Wintour up the ranks at Vogue and was, for many years, her right-hand man. She included him in the exclusive invite list for her wedding. They were on such close terms that she helped Talley in his long struggle with his weight, even staging an intervention for him when he spiraled out of control.
But their professional relationship suffered steep ups and downs, according to Talley. At one point, frustrated by Wintour’s treatment of him, he left Vogue’s offices in a huff and quit, later making up with her at her mother’s funeral.
According to Talley, longtime Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter felt similarly. Carter reportedly told Talley, “One day she treats me like a good friend and a colleague, and the next day, she treats me as if she had just handed over her keys to an unknown parking valet.”
Talley’s relationship with Wintour curdled anew in 2016 as drama bubbled over an interview podcast he hosted for Vogue. He complained about not being paid enough—$500 per episode—and Wintour canceled the show without explanation.
“She has dashed so many on a frayed and tattered heap during her powerful rule,” he writes. “I have huge emotional and psychological scars from my relationship with this towering and influential woman.”
In 2018, Wintour replaced Talley with 24-year-old Liza Khoshy as Vogue’s Met Gala red carpet interviewer. The decision stung.
“What could this talented YouTuber offer? Surely she didn’t know what a martingale back is to a Balenciaga one-seamed coat?” he writes. “This was clearly a stone-cold business decision. I had suddenly become too old, too overweight, too uncool, I imagined, for Anna Wintour.”
Later that year, she didn’t wish him a happy birthday. Still, he sent her well wishes when her birthday came around. She never responded.
He includes amusing anecdotes from his time cavorting among the rich and famous, including meeting Madonna while shooting her first Vogue cover in 1989. She reportedly greeted him “Hi, I’m Madonna, you want a blow job?” Though flattered, he declined.
Some of Talley’s remarks read less as evidence of his imploding friendship with Wintour and more as bitterness at the crumbling finances of media, particularly the Conde Nast empire. He bemoaned the state of fashion journalism today as “hardscrabble and undignified” because former editor Grace Coddington is now forced to wait in line at airports for taxis in Europe, whereas she was once ferried to and from the Ritz in chauffeured towncars.
Still, he said of Wintour, “for years Anna was the most important woman in my universe.”
But now, he only hopes “that she will find a way to apologize before I die... Not a day goes by when I do not think of Anna Wintour.”