The fashion journalist shares his journey from humble beginnings to style icon in his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches (out now). ET's Keltie Knight chatted with Talley via video chat, where he not only detailed why he decided to share his deepest, darkest secrets and victories, but how it was working with Anna Wintour -- and what The Devil Wears Prada got wrong about his former Vogue boss.
Ever since the 2003 Lauren Weisberger book and its subsequent 2006 film were released, many believe that the story and character Miranda Priestly are based on Wintour and her Vogue staff. And according to Talley, there are some similarities but also some differences.
"[One] thing the movie got wrong is Anna would never throw her coat down when she came to the office," the 70-year-old journalist shared. "Anna Wintour has never thrown a bag or coat down -- or I haven't seen it. She would not throw her coat down. She would hang it up quietly. She might hand it gently to an assistant to put in a closet, but she was not slashing her coat around like some bad, baby orca."
Another thing that he never witnessed while working at the fashion magazine were women running down the Condé Nast halls in stilettos."I had never seen one editor run, dash to Anna in [their] office. You could be walking fast, but you did not run in your stilettos."
What the film, starring Anne Hathaway, did get right, he noted, was, "She would ask assistants to go get things, like the Harry Potter book for her children."
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"Make sure you get that book because she's going to have it to take on the weekends. That was right," Talley revealed. "A lot of the things though, the nuances were right. Meryl Streep did a great job. Anna, I think, was even amused and entertained by Meryl Streep."
Wintour also has a love for dry cleaning. "Oh the dry cleaning came like every morning," Talley noted. "It has been documented, every night after she had been out she would stop by her dry cleaners on the way to work. This happens every morning. The clothes are brought in a car with her to the office in a tote bag from L.L. Bean and sent to the dry cleaners. Dry cleaning is paramount to her existence, nothing gets soiled."
Talley, meanwhile, couldn't be happier to share his memoir with the world and his fans. After the release of his 2017 documentary, The Gospel According to André, Talley got the confidence to "pin this story of seven decades of living on the planet."
"What is very significant about this book is it's my epistle of the joys of my life. The highs, the lows, the mountains, the valleys, the pains, the avenue of pains as wide as the avenue of Champs-Élysées in Paris, which I love, as well as the celebrations," he jubilantly explained. "I've had a great life and I've met extraordinary people, and I just wanted to let people know that you can survive all formidable odds."
Not afraid of exposing his most difficult times -- including dealing with racism, sexual abuse, ageism, shaming culture and more -- Talley expressed that this book is about survival.
"This is a book about going into the chiffon trenches in the segregated South, being in the front row, being the first black man in the international world of fashion, Paris, front row, January 1978 [at] Yves Saint Laurent. Skinny, well dressed, well-ruled and smart," he recalled. "Into Vogue 1983 and then made creative director by Anna Wintour in 1988 -- and therefore it's been a climb. It's been rough. It's been smooth. It's been a tsunami. It's been waves and waves and I've survived."
While he's been surrounded by and has worked with the most revered fashion icons and celebrities, above all else, Talley hopes that his readers think of him "as larger than life," but also someone who gave "everything, all of my inner being, my inner spiritual self."
"I try to share my light onto the world, and hopefully [that] helps someone in their career, or [I] inspire someone with my smile, my energy and my passion, and my dedication to fashion and style," he concluded.