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Sweeping the fluff off the red carpet

February 25, 2007|Robin Abcarian | Times Staff Writer

VOGUE editor at large Andre Leon Talley, who is to provide commentary tonight on ABC's pre-Oscar show, strolled up Rodeo Drive the other day and was treated like a celebrity by three Swedish students, three Italian engineers and one local real estate agent who asked him to pose for photos. The 6-foot-7 Talley talked up young supporting actress nominee Jennifer Hudson of "Dreamgirls," Vogue's March cover girl.

So I can guess who you're rooting for in that category.

Oh, of course. I saw "Dreamgirls" 10 times. On Christmas Day, I skipped lunch at Lee Radziwill's house to be on line at 1:30 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Midtown Manhattan to see the response. People just stand up and scream.

Was it your idea to put Hudson on the cover of Vogue?

No. It was the idea of Anna Wintour. It was my idea behind the scenes, of course. I simply sat there and gave silent support. This is historical for African American women. It's historical for all women. It shows that you could have a dream and you could one day get on the cover of Vogue and you don't have to be Twiggy.

You'll interview on the red carpet?

Yes. Jennifer Hudson, of course. I hope to talk to Cate Blanchett. Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith and Jaden, their son, if he is with them. I would love to talk to Mark Wahlberg.... I would love to talk to Martin Scorsese.

So you are not there to talk about gowns, gowns, gowns?

Oh, yes, but I will have an angle. Because when I speak to Cate Blanchett about what she is wearing, I will be able to say, "Cate, when you did 'The Missing' you belted a tweed coat when you were on a horse. And in 'Notes on a Scandal,' you also belted a sweater when you were a school teacher. Is that your special style device?"

A little more informed than the average red carpet reporter?

I hope so. When you see those people from those tabloid shows going, "What are you wearing? Twirl!" I think it's tacky and uninteresting.

In some ways there is a parallel to Las Vegas, a town allegedly about glamour, where it's all fat people in shorts. And at the Oscars, it's supposed to be about glamour, but it's actors shilling for designers.

I just think it's awful when people say, "What are you wearing?" And a star says, "My jewels are Chopard. My dress is whatever. My shoes are so-and-so ... " When they list everything, it becomes an endorsement and not true style.

Don't men have a harder time with fashion than women?

You know, funnily, I disagree. But the men have herd-like behavior. At some point they all stopped wearing bow ties and started wearing black shirts, and black-on-black doesn't work. Sometimes men might have the right look, but the hair is a mess 'cause they have it so full of gel. And I hate that whole casual thing ... like, I'll just wear a collarless shirt. There are moments in life when even you have to make an effort to be appropriate.

Which designers have a big impact?

Giorgio Armani has an extraordinary impact on the Oscars. Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel has had a major impact. Women love Valentino dresses. Julia Roberts, when she got her Oscar for "Erin Brockovich" -- vintage Valentino. Beautiful.

What did you think of the juxtaposition in "Marie Antoinette" of French pastry and couture?

Fantastic! French pastry is like couture. Sofia Coppola got that and did a remarkable job. I e-mailed her, we became friends through e-mail after that movie. I just started e-mailing in September.

Get out of here! Why?

Because, like Karl Lagerfeld, who does not e-mail but writes letters, I wanted to be old-fashioned.

What did you think of "The Devil Wears Prada"?

I never saw it.

Why have you not seen it?

Just on principle.

What's the principle?

I was offended that they got a little, tiny, bald-headed man to play a character that was based on me. Stanley Tucci. And whether he did a good job or not is not the point.

Were you offended on Anna Wintour's behalf?

People come away from the movie feeling great about Anna, and maybe that was not the intention of whatever the girl's name is who wrote the book. I never read it. I did read the screenplay, though. It was sent to me because they asked if I would consider playing myself.

Did you consider it?

Are you crazy? I felt it was cruel about Anna. It didn't reflect me at all. It didn't get my over-the-top flamboyance. You see me here in a serious gray-flannel suit, but at any given point in time, I can put on a Karl Lagerfeld Chanel court coat that has 4 meters of train and feel very comfortable.

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