by André Leon Talley
Photographed for the February 2010 Issue of Vogue by Annie Leibovitz
Inspired by his addiction to style and the fashion worlds from New York to Paris, Diddy’s new album, Last Train to Paris (to be released December 14), is a brilliant fusion of stream of consciousness and beats that bring to mind the broken cadences of avant-garde jazz. During Fashion Week last year, he sent out the call via e-mail and voice mail to high-fashion friends to come to his studio to participate in the record. I was somewhere doing what I usually do—previewing a collection or sitting around on the fourth floor of Manolo Blahnik’s midtown shoe emporium—when I received the invitation. Rushing to his studio, I thought about what I would say on the album, which inspired his February 2010 Vogue fashion shoot with Natalia Vodianova, photographed by Annie Leibovitz and styled by Grace Coddington, in which he appeared with the swagger and elegance of Cary Grant in a gorgeous shawl-collared camel double-breasted coat by Tom Ford. It wasn’t his first shoot with the magazine. In another Annie/Grace collaboration, for the October 1999 issue, he looked as dramatic as a thirties screen idol, escorting Kate Moss, dressed in couture, around Paris.
This album is simply part of his evolution. Have you ever seen his I Am King fragrance ad, in which he riffs on James Bond films by wearing a dinner jacket on a Jet Ski, or his new Cîroc ad, in which he sends himself up with the teachable lesson “Too many people know your name? Change it. And, change it again”? He’s like great creative thinkers in music who love fashion; swooner Marvin Gaye in his duets with Tammi Terrell comes to mind—what sense of elegance, what Motown glamour!
This album features the voices of some of the most influential fashion personalities, including Marc Jacobs, Isaac Mizrahi, and Tommy Hilfiger, their voices in between songs. For my part, I recited words by James Baldwin, and Diddy respected it enough to leave it intact. Last Train to Paris is totally twenty-first-century Diddy cool.
Listen to Last Train to Paris here.