Andre Leon Talley

Andre Leon Talley has made a career of helping other people look their best. As Vogue magazine's editor at large, he's been a front-row fixture at fashion shows in New York, Paris and Milan for almost 30 years. He's worked with some of the most celebrated names in fashion and Hollywood. Once a lean and lanky man, he admits to packing on the pounds over the last 10 years.

"I started noticing my weight gain around 1995 but I didn't do much about it," Andre says. In 2003, Andre says his weight spiraled out of control. "I was traveling a lot, and when you travel, you just don't focus on your diet or exercise."

At over 300 pounds, Andre's fashion designer friends created gorgeous garments to help him camouflage his excessive weight. "I had long coats made by Karl Lagerfeld," Andre says, "and I describe it as a little teepee tent that you could put a whole Lilliputian family in."
Anna Wintour

Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour says it was difficult to watch her friend become heavier and heavier. "I noticed that it was hard for him to even sit in the front rows at the fashion shows because he was simply too big—he couldn't fit. He was having a lot of trouble breathing and I just saw the situation getting worse and worse."

Andre says the low point of his day was walking into Anna's office and being scanned head to toe. "I knew she was scanning me…for the girth," Andre says. Anna even tried to help Andre by orchestrating an intervention, but it was unsuccessful. "The intervention didn't work," Andre says, "because it was all secret. I was told [to go] downstairs. I thought I was going to be fired! I said, 'What have I done? Why am I going at 7:30 in the morning to the third floor? I never go to the third floor conference room.' And in [the room] were Mr. de la Renta, Mrs. de la Renta, my minister Calvin O. Butts, Anna Wintour and myself. … I thought, 'What is this?' When I got in the room I started greeting people. I thought, 'Oh, this is fabulous—I must be getting an award. … Then something clicked…uh-oh…this is not an award.

"The only thing I kept thinking is, 'Maintain your dignity. Get out of the room. Leave the building. The intervention was not good. But this year it clicked for me."
Andre Leon Talley

Andre finally decided to make a change, and Anna Wintour suggested he go to Duke University's renowned Diet and Fitness Center.

"It's like reprogramming your mind about food," Andre says. "This is not a diet program. This is a lifestyle change." Andre says the classes at Duke opened his eyes. "I think I'm a very smart guy; I think I'm very sophisticated. But how dumb was I to have gotten to the age of 56 years old and not think about a calorie?

"I used to binge—I'd go home after a hard day—I'd go home at 11 at night, skip a meal, turn on the TV, look at The Golden Girls and eat a sleeve or two of Oreo cookies—and that would be dinner.

"I just didn't take care of myself. I was so busy giving so much energy to the world of style. I used to say—being very affected—I'd go around saying, 'Fruit is for children!' Now I try to eat fruit at least three times a day." By eating consciously and exercising several times a week, Andre plans to go down to 275 pounds, a good weight for his 6'6" frame. "My goal," Andre says, "is to keep the weight off, to lose more, and to just be able to get back into all my great clothes. That's my big goal."
Supermodel Iman

Supermodel Iman has a special message for her longtime friend Andre:

"I met Andre almost 30 years ago when I came to the United States," Iman says. "Through the years I have witnessed his gaining weight. I have been alarmed by it and wishfully thinking that he'd get back on course and lose the weight. My main concern has been about his health. I jumped for joy that he actually did something.

"Andre, I am so proud of you! And I am so happy that you're finally taking hold of your life and your health. Please stay on course. Forget about fashion—it's all about health. Forward, Andre. Love you."
Andre Leon Talley

A typical day in the life of Andre Leon Talley is much different—and much more glamorous—than the days he spent working up a sweat at Duke's Diet and Fitness Center. Andre begins his morning surrounded by racks of the latest designer clothes in the Vogue editorial department. "I grew up looking at the pages of Vogue, and I'm in the pages of Vogue, living the pages of Vogue," Andre says.

Magazine meetings take up most of his morning, and then he's off to meet with one of his favorite designers—Vera Wang! Andre gets an exclusive preview of Vera's Matisse-inspired resort collection. Then, he's off to lunch with longtime friend Pat Altschul, designer Diane von Furstenberg and Melania Trump, the new Mrs. Donald Trump.

"Part of my life at Vogue is to go see the ladies, hear what the ladies are talking about," Andre says.

Last stop? Shoe heaven! Andre takes us inside Manolo Blahnik for a sneak peek at the fabulous fall/winter collection. "What you put on your feet—that's the barometer of true elegance!" Andre says.
Andre Leon Talley

Ever since Oprah went to her first couture show in Paris , she's been wanting to ask Andre one question…

Oprah: Is couture worth it?

Andre: It's worth it if you can afford it for the experience. For the experience of going to Paris the way you did and going to those parties. It's a whole package deal. You don't have to do it all the time. Once a lifetime. Twice a lifetime.

Oprah: I could have bought a home for what I bought the Chanel outfits for.

Andre: You could have put a child through college with a jacket alone.

Oprah: They were saying—when I was there—you know, is couture dead? And I'm, "Oh, no, couture is alive." And then I got the bill. When I got the bill I said, "I think couture is dying."
Andre Leon Talley

Flipping through the pages of Vogue , you may not be able to tell one designer from the next, but Andre reveals his personal favorites to Oprah.

"Vera Wang is an extraordinary designer. We love Vera Wang," Andre says. Chanel and Valentino also top Andre's list. "You cannot wear a Valentino and look bad. It's just something in that man's mind and hands," Andre says. "He is extraordinary, Valentino… He has this refinement about women and life."

Who's another pick that dresses some of America's most powerful women? Oscar de la Renta! "He's 73, and he's as young as ever, and the clothes are gorgeous," Andre says. "He's one of the few designers that manages to dress Hillary Clinton and First Lady [Laura] Bush , and that's a real accomplishment in today's world."

Marc Jacobs is Andre's choice for accessories and for young women who want to look edgy, while Michael Kors and Calvin Klein's new designer, Francisco Costa, round out his list of stand-out designers.
Andre Leon Talley

What's one closely guarded celebrity secret that even Oprah didn't know? Andre reveals that everyone in Hollywood has a stylist!

"You know, all people have stylists," Andre says. "Everybody. They don't leave the house without a stylist!"

"All these people all these years had stylists. I did not know!" Oprah says. "I always thought—you know what, my whole thing has been to do everything myself. I want to do it myself. I want to shop for myself. I can do it myself."

Oprah finally gave in last year and hired a stylist for the first time! Now, Oprah makes Andre's list of style icons along with Danielle Steele's daughters, Jamie Foxx, Hilary Swank, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez and, of course, Anna Wintour.