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A.L.T.: A Memoir

by André Leon Talley

What influences shape a fashionista? For Vogue editor-at-large Talley (born in 1949), the answer is simple: his grandmother Bennie Davis and empress of style Diana Vreeland. In his heartfelt, occasionally affected remembrance, the Southern-born African-American admits he had little experience with Vreeland's brand of luxury but enjoyed "an innate understanding of it," thanks to his grandmother's meticulous sense of propriety. Indeed, his memoir, an homage to two extraordinary women, is less an autobiography than a eulogy. The women's mutual love of polish is "evidence of a deeper philosophy-the primacy of home and the importance of spending time in its service." Talley is a keen observer, and his book salutes beauty and its practitioners from his grandmother to Karl Lagerfeld. He's at his best, however, when recalling his Durham, N.C., childhood, his devoted father and life in a segregated South. He renders tales of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, family reunions and life during the Civil Rights movement in sumptuous detail. Yet Talley is equally awed by Vreeland, Halston and Mica Ertegun, among his pantheon of fashion royalty, and he considers it a privilege just to sit at their tables. Vreeland, his mentor, enjoys a special place in his heart, and he waxes rhapsodic about her talent as fashion icon and director of the Met's Costume Institute. Between these personal salutes, he details a 30-year hitch in the chiffon trenches, from glam parties and unimagined opulence to the generosity of friends. If Talley has one message, it's "Style transcends race, class, and time." His memoir, though saccharine in spots, is sincere.

The Face That Changed It All

by André Leon Talley Allison Samuels Beverly Johnson

A revelatory and redemptive memoir from Beverly Johnson, the first black supermodel to grace the cover of Vogue, and who, over five hundred magazine covers later, remains one of the most successful glamour girls ever.In The Face That Changed It All, Beverly Johnson brings her own passionate and deeply honest voice to the page to chronicle her childhood growing up as a studious, and sometimes bullied, bookworm during the socially conscious, racially charged '60s. Initially drawn to a career in law due to the huge impact the Civil Rights movement had on her life, Beverly eventually made her mark as the first black cover model of American Vogue in 1974. A successful three-decade career in modeling followed. Offering glamorous tales about the hard partying of the 1970s and Hollywood during the '80s and early '90s, Johnson details her many encounters and fascinating friendships with the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Halston, Calvin Klein, and Andy Warhol, as well as stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson, Keith Richards, and Warren Beatty. But not everything that glitters is gold, and Johnson's memoir reveals the countless demons she wrestled with over the course of her storied career. She brings us into the heart of her struggles with racism, drug addiction, divorce, and a prolonged child custody battle over her daughter that tested her fortitude and sanity. She shares for the first time intimate details surrounding her love affair with the late tennis icon Arthur Ashe, giving little known insight into the heart, mind, and spirit of the revered tennis legend. She also pays homage to her mentor, the late Naomi Sims, while lifting the veil off the complicated, catty, and often times tense relationships between black models during her fashion heyday. Familiar names from the catwalk, such as Pat Cleveland and Iman, appear regularly in her story, illustrating how each had to fight various battles to survive not just the system at large, but each other. Featuring gorgeous, never-before-seen photos from Johnson's childhood and modeling days, The Face That Changed It All gives a no-holds-barred look at the lives of the rich, fabulous, and famous. It is also a story of failure and success in the upper echelons of the fashion world, and how Beverly Johnson emerged from her struggles smarter, happier, and stronger than ever.

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