The former US Vogue editor-at-large says there is still a great deal of work to be done in the fashion industry but he has been impressed with how Gucci and Prada are leading the way with initiatives for Black members of the fashion world.
He told US Harper’s Bazaar: ”Global brands including Gucci and Prada have set up initiatives for Black members of the industry to advise them. Gucci was one of the first to have this advisory board that started, I think, about a year ago, which meets regularly to discuss things that are important to the roles of Black talent in the fashion industry. That’s very, very significant.”
André has mentored many up-and-coming designers and he praised his own former mentors for inspiring him.
He explained: ”I have to give credit to my former mentors, the editors Diana Vreeland and Carrie Donovan. I had great role models. You just simply nurture through conversation or special opportunities, and encourage them to never give up. For example, I first read about LaQuan Smith in a New York Times piece that described how he was living in his grandmother’s house in Queens and making patterns from newspapers. I remember thinking, this person has got something.
”I went to his first show and I was blown away. It was stunning. Stunning in its relevancy and its currency. By the time he had the second or third show, I had Serena Williams walking in it! She was in town for the US Open and I said to her, ‘You’ve got to come with me and be in LaQuan Smith’s show’. She never had a fitting for the dress she wore, but she closed the show.
”LaQuan Smith is so extraordinary that I simply gave him £1600 of my own money. One day I went and said to him, ‘Take this check and use it to go to Paris. Paris is the mecca of style and fashion, and just seeing how light falls on the buildings there will inspire you. You don’t have to go to Paris to do a certain thing. I’m not saying you must go to Paris and try to go in and see a designer or get a job.’ I said, ‘Just go there for a couple days.
Go sit down and have a cup of hot chocolate, have a croissant, have a café in a restaurant in the open air.’ And he did. I saw him recently before the Covid came. I went to the studio in Queens, and he’s still doing great work. He is extraordinary. He is self-made, and it’s extraordinary.”