>> Tyra Banks first approached Andre Leon Talley to be on America's Next Top Model eight years ago. “At that point," he told WWD , "I said no because it was the beginning. I was thinking I wanted to see where it goes.” Fast forward to 2010 and cycle 14 of the show, which premieres March 10 on The CW, with Talley on the judging panel:
I felt maybe I could contribute something to it that had not been on the show. I just felt that it was a way to step out of the box and associate myself with a very important American success story, a very important brand — Tyra Banks.
How does Anna Wintour feel about all this? »
He'd never watched the show when he said yes, but he had “no hesitations at all.” Neither did Anna Wintour. “Her reaction,” according to Talley , “was, ‘Fine, Andre. Just let me know when you’re going to do it and how it’s going.’” Through her spokesman, Wintour noted : “Andre is always onto new things on television, and I think his latest adventure sounds like a lot of fun and I look forward to watching him on the program.”
Talley is signed on for three cycles, and has a show wardrobe of 13 custom-made Chado Ralph Rucci capes, varying only in color or fabric. “I went to Ralph Rucci when I started this thing,” Talley said . “We came up with these wonderful designs that are based on 17th-century Edo samurai tunic-coats. And Ralph, who is extraordinarily gifted, understood my desire to have something that would pop on TV.”
He also created a catchphrase for the show: "dreckitude," from one of his "favorite" words, dreck, and "quackitude," which he heard Rachel Maddow use on her show. He explained: “‘Dreckitude’ was whipped out when I thought the challenge was not met or if [the contestants] showed up in perhaps an outfit that I just couldn’t wrap my mind around."
For example: “I was constantly repulsed by the complete popularity of what I call the Cult of the Ugly Shoe — that is, a very clodhopper, high platform-y, clunky-clunk sort of shoe, which they would favor. And I kept saying to them, ‘You can also be very elegant in a Sabrina flat.’”