By Nadia Reese
Special to the AFRO
On Jan. 18, Black fashion icon, influential former Creative Director and Editor-at-Large of Vogue Magazine, André Leon Talley, died at the age of 73 in New York. Though the cause of his death is unknown Talley did experience some health complications, most specifically with COVID, according to his friend and president of Ford Foundation Darren Walker. However, another source from Vogue confirmed that his death was due to a heart attack.
A statement was posted on his Instagram account, @andreltalley which reads:
“It is with great sadness we announce the passing of André Leon Talley on Jan. 18, 2022 in New York. Mr. Talley was the larger-than-life, longtime creative director at Vogue during its rise to dominance as the world’s fashion bible. Over the past five decades as an international icon was a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso, Diane von Furstenberg, Bethann Hardison, Manolo Blahnik and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers. His byline appeared in Vanity Fair, HG, Interview, Ebony and Women’s Wear Daily and he was the editor of Numero Russia. Mr. Talley wrote several books, including Valentino, A.L.T.: A Memoir, A.L.T. 365+ and Little Black Dress for Assouline, and contributed to Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table and Cartier Panthère. He was the subject of the documentary The Gospel According to André and his recent memoir, The Chiffon Trenches became a New York Times Best Seller. In 2014, he was named artistic director of Zappos Couture, and he has been on the Board of Trustees of Savannah College of Art and Design since 2000. Mr. Talley was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Republic in 2020 and the North Carolina Governor’s award for literature in 2021. He was a long-standing member of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church.”
The New York Times described Talley as “one of the rare Black editors who reached the top of a field that was notoriously White.” Talley’s success began at Interview Magazine where he worked as a receptionist and he would later work for a fashion publication known as, Women’s Wear Daily. In the 1980s, Talley began working with Vogue as a fashion news director, creative director, and then as an editor-at-large.
Those who were close to Talley, like supermodel, actress and tv personality Tyra Banks who worked with Talley on her show, America’s Next Top Model shared memories of the late icon on social media. “I had never experienced such a prolific person serving up a rare mix of fashion ‘fabulousness’ and real down-home southern comfort love until I met @andreltalley,” Banks said. “Being in his presence was so magical. He made me smile, laugh and was a masterful teacher – a generous, genius historian. Scholar, colleague, effervescent spirit, legend…you are resting now, Dearest André. But your spirit, your ‘je ne sais quoi’ your voice, your laugh, your screams of effervescent, delightful joy…I hear it now. And will forever.”
Another companion of Talley, Marc Jacobs posted on his Instagram, writing “We remember André Leon Talley, the icon. Rest peacefully.”
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