André Leon Talley, pioneering fashion journalist and former creative director of Vogue, has died at the age of 73
Pioneering fashion journalist André Leon Talley died in New York on Tuesday at the age of 73.
His death was confirmed on his Instagram account. The cause of death was not specified.
The former creative director and editor-in-chief of Vogue has shaped fashion and trends for decades, but has never been afraid to break the rules.
Born in Washington, DC, Talley was raised in Durham, North Carolina by his grandmother, Bennie Frances Davis, who he said had a flair for fashion and influenced his attraction to the industry.
He said he ventured into Durham’s library and discovered Vogue as a child and began his relationship with the publication as a devoted reader.
Talley attended North Carolina Central University before earning a master’s degree in French from Brown University in the early 1970s.
Working as Andy Warhol’s assistant put Talley in a strong position for the arts and culture world. During that decade he became head of the Paris bureau of Women’s Wear Daily and contributed to the fashion coverage of The New York Times. In 1983 he joined Vogue as Fashion News Director and later as Creative Director.
He left Vogue in the 1990s, returning as a freelance editor and leaving permanently in 2013 to seize the opportunity to run Numéro Russia, a fashion publication, but left after a year. When Barack Obama rose to the White House, Talley was tapped to advise the First Family on fashion.
In the years that followed, he appeared on the hit reality TV show America’s Next Top Model as a judge, the ultimate judge, which was his style.
Talley’s gaze was intense and intimidating, his 6ft 6in frame a preview of the wit and intellect behind his fashion critique.
His idea of effective fashion involved breaking the rules, but only if you know the rules.
In 2017, Talley addressed the trend of men in rompers — the shortened version of overalls — telling St. Louis Magazine, “The romper trend isn’t universal. I don’t see Kanye West going out in a onesie, or Drake, Justin Bieber. Certainly not Leonardo DiCaprio. James Corden could take off a onesie.”
Talley’s influence extended beyond the runway and glossy pages: he appeared in the theatrical version of Sex and the City, the 2008 Vogue documentary The September Issue, and Valentino: The Last Emperor, a documentary about the designer. He was also the subject of the 2018 documentary The Gospel according to André.
“As an international icon, he has been a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Paloma Picasso over the past five decades, and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers,” the social media outlet said. Media post reporting his death.
Its 11-room Colonial in White Plains, New York, the subject of a lawsuit earlier this year over who has title and occupancy rights, seemed to suggest Talley’s sense of style, comfortable but grand. This included the sofa from author Truman Capote’s United Nations Plaza apartment.
He has said that growing up, Vogue’s description of Capote’s Black and White Ball, a high society party, as a sophisticated world where “bad things never happened” sparked desire and imagination, the New York Times wrote in her 2020 review of his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches.
Talley’s memoir was known for addressing his tumultuous relationship with another Vogue fashion goddess, Anna Wintour. But it also brought a new understanding of his own childhood and appeal to runways — and how race in America was a key to his stuff.
His voice was more than just a sniper. He used it to promote inclusion in an industry that has its racial archetypes. He has been a constant voice of encouragement for the underappreciated over-achievement of black culture, particularly in the realm of style.
rihanna Janelle Monae. Kerry Washington. Lupita Nyong’o. As they headed to the Met Gala, which he described as the Super Bowl of fashion, he cheered them on like a proud father. “How beautiful is your dress,” he said to Washington.
His sense of propriety and pomp in fashion dates back to when he went to church with his grandmother. He often made the distinction that this was not just Church, but Black Church.
“In the Black South, church culture was almost like senior school,” Talley told Garden & Gun in 2018.
He told the magazine one of his proudest moments was when Edward Enninful became the first black man to direct British Vogue and he said to Talley, “You paved the way.”
Information about Talley’s survivors and services was not immediately available Tuesday night.