André Leon Talley, the influential fashion journalist and former managing editor of US Vogue under Anna Wintour, has died at the age of 73.
TMZ reported that Talley had died Tuesday at a New York hospital of an unknown illness. His death was later confirmed by his literary agent, David Vigliano.
Talley, a larger-than-life character at six feet seven inches tall, was a pioneering figure in the world of fashion, known for his scathing comments and flamboyant presence as the caftans, hats and robes he frequently wore . In a career that spanned six decades, Talley used her position to champion diversity on the runway and behind the scenes in the world of fashion.
Designer and close friend Diane von Furstenberg was among those who paid tribute on Wednesday. “Goodbye dear André… no one saw the world in a more glamorous way than you,” he wrote. “No one was grander and more moving than you.”
Playwright Jeremy O’Harris wrote: “For a black gay kid reaching for the stars from the South, there were few people I could look up to up there among the stars who looked like me only more fabulous except you, André.
“For a generation of children, André Leon Talley was a beacon of grace and aspiration.”
Born in 1948 and raised in Jim Crow-era North Carolina, Talley was a lifelong advocate of fashion, recalling in his 2020 memoir The Chiffon Trenches how he would visit his local library to read copies of Vogue magazine, who came to embody a world. in which “bad things never happened.” Speaking to The Guardian in 2020, Talley recalled being stoned by students at his university as he walked across campus on Sundays to buy Vogue.
Her fashion career began with an internship for former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974. Impressed with her skills, Vreeland introduced Talley to contacts at Andy Warhol’s Factory and Interview magazine, where she worked. as a receptionist. He began writing for publications like W and the New York Times, but it was at US Vogue that he made his name, rising through the ranks to become the magazine’s news director and then creative director until 1995, when he went away. He returned to the magazine three years later and remained as managing editor until 2013.
Talley’s long working relationship with Vogue editor Anna Wintour would become the big selling point for her second memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, in which Talley lashed out at her former boss. Talley felt that he had fallen out of favor because “I had suddenly become too old, too overweight, and too out of the loop.” Wintour, he wrote, was incapable of “mere human kindness” and “was never really passionate about clothes. Power was his passion.” In the book he also detailed the sexual abuse he endured as a child and the racism and sizeism he encountered throughout his life.
She felt “at home” in the fashion world, she once told The Guardian, because “there were no victims, just high-octane egos.”
In 2021 he went softer on Wintour, telling The Cut: “She is the empress. He has worked hard. He has been through many battles. He deserves everything they give him. At 72, having that job is very, very, very impressive. I wish you all the best”.
Talley also served as a judge on America’s Next Top Model and, in 2008, became a fashion consultant to the Obama family. He interviewed Michelle Obama for Vogue when she took on the role of first lady in 2009, he later called her “the most elegant woman in America.” But in 2020 he publicly criticized the Obamas for hosting a birthday party during the Covid pandemic. telling the new york times: “I think the nouveau riche Obamas are seriously deaf… the Obamas are in Marie Antoinette mode, tacky, let them eat cake. They need to remember their humble roots.”
Talley never publicly defined his sexuality, calling himself “fluid”. He had never been in a relationship, he once said, something he attributed to being abused as a child. “I gave everything to my career”, told the New York Times. “Diane von Furstenberg said, ‘She was afraid of falling in love,’ and I guess I was. I guess I was scared, and I guess I was holding back. I grew up in a very strict home. But being in this world, moving with all these incredible people… it was enough for me to have the friendship of Karl or the friendship of Yves Saint Laurent or the friendship of Azzedine Alaïa”.
Talley wrote two memoirs and was the subject of the 2018 documentary The Gospel According to André.
When asked if she would have been happier working outside of fashion, Talley said no. “My story is a fairy tale of excess, and in every fairy tale there is evil and darkness, but you overcome it with light,” he once told The Guardian. “I want every person I pass, the stranger on the street, the church member in the pew next to me, to feel love.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism