Fashion influencer and former Vogue magazine editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley visited St. Louis June 23-24. He received the Annual Fashion Fund Award, offered suggestions to the Fashion Incubator’s inaugural designers and shared his fashion knowledge during a sold-out event at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Below, the Fashion Incubator’s designers share tips from Talley.


“Andre impressed on us the importance of confidence. My power comes from passion, and this is how I express confidence through my work. He also reiterated the importance of history and
creating a narrative with my clothing. I’m thankful Andre reminded me of that.” — Agnes Hamerlik, an interdisciplinary artist and designer who has collaborated with the Art Institute of Chicago and various prestige galleries to exhibit her work nationally. Brand: Agnes Hamerlik

“Andre Leon Talley is one of fashion’s biggest icons, and his opinion is one of the most universally well-respected in the industry. His time and thoughts shared with the designers helped validate our businesses, as well as the mission of the Incubator, and is another major step in St. Louis planting its flag on the fashion map.” — Emily Brady Koplar, a designer with an effortlessly polished aesthetic who began making clothes in early childhood. Brand: Wai Ming

“Be decisive, yet be humble.” — Reuben Reuel, who draws inspiration from his grandmother, a seamstress with impeccable taste and flamboyant style. Brand: Demestik by Reuben Reuel

“As glamorous as this industry may be … everyone — no matter their status or levels — will continuously deal with adversity, but you deal with that struggle with dignity and make your light shine through the ignorance and the adversity by any means necessary.” — Charles Smith II, whose diverse aesthetic vision is apparent in his styling of celebrities, including Zoe Kravitz, Lenny Kravitz’s daughter. Brand: Smith II

“I am repeatedly reminded that the mark of a true industry mogul is his/her remarkable kindness. As emerging designers, we are constantly navigating opinions and criticisms, but it is the real professionals who show the most positivity and support. Mr. Talley epitomizes that professional archetype with a seasoned sense of self that lifts others up.” — Allison Mitchell, a minimalist yet avant-garde handbag designer who sustainably sources animal skins and hides from around the world. Brand: Allison Mitchell

“Remain confident and steadfast in your unique design voice and define your level of success by the love you have for your work and the appreciation others show for your creations. Persevere with humility.” — Audra Noyes, whose collection has been featured in many renowned publications, including W Magazine, Re nery29 and international editions of Vogue. Brand: AUDRA M