Many fashion films have been released recently, but one that stands out the most is the documentary about André Leon Talley.
The film actually premiered in Toronto at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, almost a year ago. However, it was only screened in the city this past summer, and FAJO was delighted to attend one of the press screenings. It seemed particularly appropriate to publish our story about this film in September – in the midst of fashion week season and the next installment of TIFF.
What makes this film particularly memorable is that unlike many other documentaries that feature fashion personalities, this one really paints a perfect portrait of its key protagonist. André Leon Talley, who is also widely known in the fashion industry as ALT, is a complex, multi-faceted person, with much talent and charisma. At the end of this documentary, the viewer will feel like ALT has become someone they have known for a very long time.
The film tracks ALT’s life from young age, when he lived with his Grandma, to his growing involvement in the fashion and arts scene, in New York and Paris. It highlights that in addition to his many other talents, he was one of the few people on the scene in North America who spoke fluent French and this partially helped his subsequent jetsetter lifestyle in Europe, where he met and interviewed some of the most renowned fashion designers of our time.
Director Kate Novack draws fascinating, heretofore unexplored connections, between the elegance of ALT’s beloved grandmother and the Black Church of his youth, and his later iconic, barrier-breaking work at publications like Women’s Wear Daily, W and Vogue. Weaving together a wealth of archival footage from the most glamorous moments in fashion history with André’s poignant reflections on his life and career, The Gospel According to André is a cinematic monument to one of the most unique figures of the American culture in the 20th century.
Produced by the team who brought viewers The First Monday in May and Page One: Inside The New York Times, and featuring commentary from fashion luminaries, such as Anna Wintour, Valentino Garavani, Diane von Furstenberg, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford, The Gospel is an indispensable addition to the growing canon of fashion documentary.
There are some very, very funny and entertaining interviews and quotes (Fran Lebowitz is particularly hilarious, and certainly ALT himself has an exceptional sense of humour) that will stick with you even after you leave the movie theater or turn off the film on your TV or laptop.
We could write pages upon pages of reviews about this film, and it still wouldn’t do it justice. All we will say is: watch it. Because you will enjoy every minute, whether you work in the fashion industry or not.
You can purchase the film on its website.