For so many years, André Leon Talley had such a strong presence at the Met Gala. There were all the times he worked the event, and then, towards the end of his time at Vogue, the years he hosted the magazine's livestream of the red carpet, offering his insightful, incisive commentary live from his perch at the top of the museum's steps. Though that relationship ended sourly, as he recounted in his 2020 memoir, Talley unequivocally left his mark on the event. For designer Victor Glemaud, the event's return to the first Monday in May was an opportunity to pay homage to the late editor, who passed away in January.
"When you think of the theme and you think of 'gilded glamour' and you think of André, it's all one and the same," he says.
The designer attended the 2022 Met Gala as a guest of H&M. The opportunity came up "quite organically," Glemaud says: He's worked with the Swedish fashion company on the Met Gala in the past, designing looks for its guests and escorting them up the red carpet. When H&M reached out, he floated the idea of a tribute to Talley, to which "they immediately said yes."
Talley was synonymous with elegant, voluminous capes, so Glemaud and H&M created a silk taffeta opera coat for the red carpet "that instantly says 'André,'" worn over a white tuxedo. "The colors, the richness of it, the refinement, the finishing, the excellence that André stood for — it's all in this look," Glemaud says.
Beyond referencing Talley's signature cape, the designer nodded to other aspects of the late editor's style: "André was all about classic menswear and beautiful English tailoring, and I think we have a lot of those elements, from the lapel to the construction of the very classic tuxedo. It's very traditional. We've made it in these shades of ivory so it feels more contemporary, but the cut and everything about it is very traditional, which was very André — down to the silk socks and the loafer."
"This is the first time I've truly been invited to the Met Gala — I've escorted people before — so I'm thrilled that we could do it this way, paying tribute to a great person who's legacy is phenomenal," Glemaud says. "I'm really, really happy. I hope [people] recognize that the legacy of André and the Met is bigger than this moment, and that we continue to celebrate him."
Like countless others who were able to spend time with Talley in the hallowed halls of the Met, Glemaud cherishes those memories, which he says speak to the essence of who the industry legend was. One example: "Many years ago, back when they invited young fashion people to the after party at the Temple of Dendur, when Venus and Serena Williams started attending fashion things, we arrived and I went to say hello to André," he says. "And he goes, 'Kiss Venus first!' That's very much a vivid memory of the Met Gala and André — even in his element, it was still about everyone else except for him."
As a designer living and working in New York, Glemaud recognizes the significance of the exhibit, which aims to celebrate and uplift American fashion talent. "We have to keep showing that there's talent, there's always been talent — female designers from back in the day who are in this exhibition, from Claire McCardell to Donna Karan to new young designers that should also be showcased to a broader audience who goes to the museum and stumbles upon this exhibition or comes to the museum for this exhibition," he says. "For people who are coming tonight internationally, it's really important to see the mix: You have H&M and other global brands celebrating American design. I think it's fantastic."