On the very first day Anna Wintour took over as editor of House and Garden (which she immediately renamed, “HG”), she had lunch with the great NY “Prince of Chintz” designer, Mario Buatta. His office was a royal mess. Anna loved the mess. She also caught a glimpse of a portrait I had done of Mario in that very spot buried in all of his chaos.
A couple of days later I was called in. Anna said she loved my portrait of Mario - loved how lived in it was. She said she wanted all the portraits for HG to feel that alive and real. Next thing I knew I was doing many of the portraits for the new HG. The interiors photographers would spend days getting everything right. I would waltz in to make the portraits with all the chaos and breadth of real life I could blow up into the shots. While I so respect and admire what the interiors shooters were doing, I was definitely having all the fun.
HG was a short lived affair for Anna. Only 4 months and she was off to run Vogue. She brought me along. Not for features, but for fun. It was at that time I met Andre Leon Talley - who was so much bigger than life in every way and totally fascinating. I begged him to take me to the Baptist church in Harlem he was so involved with. One Sunday a big limo stopped outside my apartment building at 100th St. and West End Ave, swooped me up and I rode up to church with Andre. I was totally out of my element and completely in heaven.
Andre is one of the smartest, inspired, and most beautiful people I have ever met. He is audacious, confident in a way that hits the gas so hard, then he cruises into a peace of his own unique invention. This interview posted today on Huff Post captures so many truths. Meet your deadline. The attitude of confidence. Have more affairs when you are young.
Andre is like a drone with a big heart. He floats above us all and sees things completely differently. It is completely intoxicating to be with someone so sure of things that are so subjective.
When I decided to move to Santa Monica later months later, it was a quick decision. I already had the movers on their way west when I went up to Anna’s office. I told her I needed an advance for 12 days of work to pay the movers, arguing that I would be a of great use to her in LA. She gave me the advance. I drove out west in a big station wagon with my father. The first day I was in Santa Monica, the breakfast room shook like crazy from an earthquake. Then the phone rang. It was an assignment from Vogue to shoot George Lucas up at Skywalker Ranch. I was off and running.