Last week, I had the distinct privilege of interviewing one of fashion's most iconic figures, the incomparable André Leon Talley, at the beautiful Neiman Marcus store at Fashion Island. A little shopping get-together hosted by Neiman Marcus and Manolo Blahnik, the event kicked off with a panel by André Leon Talley and George Malkemus (CEO of Manolo Blahnik). During the event, customers had the rare chance to customize their own Hangisi heels from Manolo Blahnik (you know, those amazing blue heels that Carrie wore to her wedding in SATC) and shop some of the store's "Only at NM" Manolos. While the festivities continued, I sat down with Mr. Leon Talley himself for a brief interview about fashion's up-and-comers, the challenges the industry currently faces, and his advice for youngsters looking to break into the fashion world.
Marissa: You've obviously worked with some of the most important publications and businesses, like Neiman Marcus and Manolo Blahnik, in the fashion industry. Which of the designers that Neiman Marcus has do you think are the next up-and-comers in the industry?
Andre Leon Talley: I think that the designers that are the most current ones are the best ones, and that certainly is Tom Ford. I noticed Tom Ford is in the store, and the Gucci line. Gucci is important.
M: Ok, Gucci and Tom Ford. I also had a question about how brands like Manolo Blahnik and retailers like Neiman Marcus, how you feel they work with editors and bloggers to continually connect and be able to tell their stories to their customers?
ALT: The language of communication is vital. I think Neiman Marcus does a great job of communicating to the editors, Vogue-- they do a great job, they've always had a great connection. They seek out the consult and opinion of Vogue and vice versa. Vogue wants to know what Neiman Marcus has to say. What's selling? What's the best seller? How do the brands come across? I think it's a language.
M: That's so true. Also, clearly our culture has become very much of the moment, we want something, we see it now. How do you see fashion companies adapting to this sort of cultural desire to have everything right away?
ALT: Well Tom Ford has done it brilliantly. That whole thing of live streaming fashion shows has helped. And even Neiman Marcus has an online product. You can buy Neiman Marcus online. I think that is very modern and very important.
M: I have one last question. Do you have any advice for fashion lovers who are trying to break into the industry?
ALT: Never give up your dream. Never give up your dream, and go to school!