Why is Andre Leon Talley is influential because he gets that fashion is not just what you're wearing. It's about what's going on around you. If it was only about clothes, Ralph Lauren would not be opening restaurants in Paris, Marc Jacobs wouldn't be using his fashion shows to make social commentary on recycling, and Karl Lagerfeld and Claudia Schiffer would not be in such hot water for the black-face ads. Andre Leon Talley understands why all of these events are part of the fashion world.
Fashion has been around for centuries. Andre Leon Talley understands that fashion is a commentary of the time, and the time is influenced by fashion. He knows the history, and he is a part of pushing the limits in the future. If he mentions you in Vogue just assume you've hit it big in the fashion world.
He seems to be able to tell a story and report, as he writes. If you read his column (yes, I do. Every month.) you understand that he seems to embody the fashion industry by being able to report on what event was so hot at that moment, what everyone who was anyone was wearing, but then he can make it relevant to the over-all landscape of the U.S. and the world.
He understands that American fashion is different than French, and he may belong in the French world with his clothes. He is the man that worked very hard to get to where he is today, and he is very passionate because he is doing what he loves.
Andre Leon Talley, Living Legend.