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Friday Tea Break: A Fashion World War Is Brewing Against Anna Wintour

No name in fashion sends chills down one's spine quite like Anna Wintour's. {When I worked at Vogue we called her "Nuclear Wintour."} And we're not just talking about the summer interns who happen to pass her by in the corridors of Condé Nast. Everyone from fellow high-up editors to designers to, of course, her executive assistants (we've all seen The Devil Wears Prada) are well aware of her icy reputation, along with her ability to make or break careers - and friendships. Now, after some not-so-nice secrets from her former Vogue wingman have gone public, the fashion world flood gates have officially opened. How's this for a juicy distraction?

André Leon Talley

Le drama began last week when passages from André Leon Talley's upcoming memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, were obtained by the Daily Mail. The longtime Vogue editor credited Wintour as being a "powerful ally" when he launched his career at the glossy, back in the '80s. When he first ran into her at the office, she smiled at him, and when he got home, she had sent a note saying, "Welcome to Vogue. I look forward to working with you."

They worked together for years, developing a personal and professional relationship. When Wintour became the EIC of Vogue in 1988, she hired Talley as Creative Director, giving him an unprecedented ranking as a black man in fashion journalism. Together they made history, so what went wrong?

After their decades-long friendship, Talley says that he has "huge emotional and psychological scars." In his memoir, he claims the bobbed icon is "not capable of human kindness," pointing to her silent treatments, calculated relationships ("she has mercilessly made her best friends people who are the highest in their chosen fields"), and stone-cold business decisions (which include removing him from his role interviewing celebs on the Met Gala red carpet, without addressing it directly).

In recent years, he claims he "had suddenly become too old, too overweight, too uncool" for her. "She simply put me out of her existence. Now she treats me as a former employee, brief greetings, never anything more than perfunctory salutations."

Graydon Carter