MELISSA COKER

MELISSA COKER

LIFE WITH ANDRÉ

Wren founder and designer Melissa Coker on traveling in style with a larger-than-life Vogue editor.

André Leon Talley at New York Fashion Week, photograph by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

I hadn’t worked as André Leon Talley’s assistant for long — maybe six months — before my first business trip with him.

We went to Paris to style Renée Zellweger for Vogue’s April 2001 cover, [which was shot] during the couture shows. Prior to the trip, André gave me a copy of one of Diana Vreeland’s books and said,

‘You must read this cover to cover before you get off the plane.’

I didn’t want to break it to him, but I’d been to Paris before.

For the shoot, Renée was dressed by and shot with six or seven designers, like KARL LAGERFELD, JOHN GALLIANO, and TOM FORD. There were different photos with her and each designer.

Renée Zellweger and Karl Lagerfeld photographed by Arthur Elgort for American Vogue, April 2001

Zellweger and John Galliano photographed by Arthur Elgort for American Vogue, April 2001

We only had the clothes for a few hours — André chose looks that we would get moments after each runway show ended — so it was a very intense, tight schedule. I remember helping him dress Renée; I have this vivid memory of not being very good at buckling her shoes.

Working for André was amazing; he is the most inspiring, kind, loving, delightful person I could have dreamed of, ever.

He gave me a pair of Manolo Blahniks as a present [while we were there]. None of my business trips since have quite lived up to that one.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Stylist Mary Fellowes meets legendary muse Isabella Blow, fashion editors Sasha Charnin Morrison & Jade Hobson talk their decades in the hallowed halls of glossy magazines.

Zellweger and Tom Ford photographed by Arthur Elgort for American Vogue, April 2001