Andre Leon Talley, Fashion Giant, Dead at 73

by Jhanaya Belle

January 19, 2022

Photo by: Cindy Ord / Stringer

André Leon Talley, the substantial fashion editor who rose from the Segregated South to dominating the couture world, has died. He was 73.

As a pioneer in fashion, Talley is most notably remembered as a legendary creative director and editor-at-large at Vogue. However, he was also known to leverage his infinite range of fashion history and sharp wit into positions as an author, public speaker, television personality, and curator.

His death was announced by his friend Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, after a series of health issues.

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“André Leon Talley was a singular force in an industry that he had to fight to be recognized in,” Walker said, calling the regal fashion gem a “creative genius.”

The tragic news of the fashion giant swept across social media instantly, leaving several fashion legends to respond to the tragedy.

“Good bye darling Andre … No one saw the worlds in a more glamourous way than you did … no one was grander and more soulful than you were … the world will be less joyfull. I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years .… I miss your loud screams … I love you soooo much,” Belgian designer Diane von Fürstenberg wrote on Instagram.

Fashion legend Anna Wintour released a statement regarding to Talley’s death as well.

“Goodbye dear André… nobody saw the world in a more elegant and glamorous way than you… no one was more moving and grandiose than you… the world will be less joyful now. I have loved you and laughed with you for years… I will miss your loud cries and loyal friendship, despite our differences lately, you were a fashion great, we will remember you fondly… Rest in paradise dear @andreltalley.”

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The 6 foot 6-inch couture genius started his career as the receptionist at Interview magazine under the famous artist, Andy Warhol. From 1975 to 1980, Tally worked for Women’s Wear Daily, where he rose to the position of Paris bureau chief, then at W.

Talley began working at Vogue as the fashion news director in 1983. From 1987 to 1995, he was Wintour’s right-hand man as creative director and editor-at-large.

He pushed well-known designers to use more Black models on the catwalk. Talley mentored Naomi Campbell and placed her as Scarlett O’Hara in a Vanity Fair shoot that reinvented Gone with the Wind with Black heroines long before the fashion industry recognized its own prejudice.

Photo by: David M. Benett/ Contributor

He left Vogue in 1995 and moved to Paris, where he resurfaced at W Magazine, where he had worked earlier.

He continued to work as an editor at Vogue until 1998, when he returned full-time as editor-at-large and began authoring the monthly piece Style Fax. He lasted in this job until 2013, when he left Vogue for good.

Talley has also contributed to Women’s Wear Daily, The New York Times, and Interview Magazine during his career. André is also the subject of The Gospel According to André, a documentary that was released in 2018.

In May 2020, he published The Chiffon Trenches, a book about his life and career that traces his unlikely journey from the front porch of his grandmother’s house in Durham, North Carolina, to the front rows of fashion.

Photo by: Bennett Raglin / Contributor

“To my 12-year-old self, raised in the segregated South, the idea of a Black man playing any kind of role in this world seemed an impossibility,” the 73-year-old said in his memoir.

He continued.

“To think of where I’ve come from, where we’ve come from, in my lifetime, and where we are today, is amazing. And, yet, of course, we still have so far to go.”

Among the many details in the book, Talley opened up about the end of his time at Vogue and how his 30-year friendship with Wintour eventually became fractured.

“I think my relationship is in an iceberg with her,” Talley told Gayle King in a 2020 interview. “I hope that it will not be that forever.”

Photo by: Bryan Bedder/Staff

Jason Sheeler, PEOPLE’s Deputy West Coast Editor, recently chatted with Talley.

“I spoke to him last week, reaching out for a story I am working on. In true ALT style, I emailed and texted him for a couple of days and then received an all-caps text CALL ME NOW,” Sheeler, who interviewed Talley numerous times throughout his career, recalled the encounter.

The PEOPLE’s Deputy West Coast Editor continued.

“When you asked André a question you had to be ready for the answer. He always had an answer. He had a perspective on fashion that went far beyond clothes and fashion magazines — he connected dots many people couldn’t see, from runway to fine art to celebrity to models to photography to pop culture.”

We send our condolences to Andre Leon Talley’s loved ones at this time.

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