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Zappos Taps André Leon Talley

The Amazon-owned site has named Talley as artistic director of its high-end Zappos Couture business.

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ZAPPOS TAPS TALLEY: While Zappos has become a go-to site for Middle America footwear shoppers, it’s still seeking to elevate its image among more highbrow consumers. To that end, the Amazon-owned site has named André Leon Talley as artistic director of its high-end Zappos Couture business. The former Vogue eminence will oversee editorial content on the Zappos Couture site, including fashion shoots, videos and trend picks, all set to debut on Jan. 22.

“The digital universe is a new, exciting opportunity for me to reach a broad audience in terms of the global luxury market,” said Talley, adding that his goal is to “create something unique, in terms of a Web magazine within the Zappos Couture Web site, that conveys the immediacy and excitement of luxury retail products, season by season.”

The one-year partnership with Zappos is the first commercial foray with a retailer or brand for Talley. It continues the evolution of his work since exiting his influential perch at Vogue this year, where he was previously an editor in various roles for nearly three decades. Talley no longer has an affiliation with the Condé Nast title; in March, he joined Numéro Russia as international editor at large, overseeing cover and well shoots.

Zappos Couture is hoping Talley will raise its profile with both consumers and luxury vendors, leveraging the editor’s high-fashion credibility. Talley is known for his vast knowledge of fashion history, quote-worthy pronouncements and fondness for grandiose caftans. “We’re really looking to become the destination in online luxury shopping. For us, we still have a lot of brands we’re looking to acquire for the site and we hope that with André’s partnership it will help us develop relationships with these brands,” said Jennifer Sidary, head of couture at Zappos Couture, which was launched in 2004.

Zappos Couture has a broad list of designer vendors — such as Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Lanvin, Cartier and Dolce & Gabbana — but many only sell shoes or licensed products like eyewear and fragrances on the site. Its three largest vendors are Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta and Salvatore Ferragamo, said Sidary. The goal is to expand into a wider range of merchandise, particularly apparel.

Currently, the only editorial content on the Zappos Couture site is a weekly video feature, called The Trend, which includes red-carpet interviews with designers and celebrities, hosted by Victoria Recaño. That video content will transition to the main Zappos site, replaced by Talley’s content on Zappos Couture.

Marc Beckman, a partner at DMA United, which brokered the Zappos deal on Talley’s behalf, was careful to emphasize that his client’s role is strictly limited to editorial content and does not include a sales or merchandising role. “He’s not selling anything and he’s not asking his friends to sell anything,” explained Beckman. “He’s being put in place at Zappos specifically for creative purposes.”