André Leon Talley, Fashion Giant, Has Died
The life and torments of the first color fashion editor, who died at 73
The American journalist passed away at the age of 73. The causes of death have not yet been revealed. Imposing presence and inevitable in the front rows of all fashion shows, always alongside Anna Wintour with whom he worked at Vogue America, leaves an unbridgeable void in the world of fashion. niood goes through the life and torments of the first black fashion editor at Vogue America:
André Leon Talley was born in 1948 in Washington, but soon moved to live with his maternal grandmother in North Carolina, where she works as a maid. André grows up with her, and from her he learns the importance of dressing well. Her life is not an easy one, at a time when racial segregation is still the norm in the United States. But Talley manages to emerge, wins a scholarship to Brown University and graduates in French literature. From there he managed to have an unpaid internship at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where he meets Diana Vreeland, the lady of American fashion. The very demanding woman was struck by the enthusiasm, talent and culture of the young Talley, and recommended him for a job at Andy Warhol’s Factory.
Become friends with all the stars of the moment, he is a regular at Studio 54 and all the hypest restaurants and clubs. He starts writing for Interview, Warhol’s magazine, but the real great chance is offered to him by the powerful publisher John Fairchild, who sends him to review the Parisian fashion shows for WWD, his fashion newspaper considered the Bible of the sector. It was a revolutionary choice seeing this lanky black boy in the midst of very elegant, aging and white journalists is a cultural shock that not everyone appreciates. But André knew much more about fashion than most of his colleagues and a lifelong friendship with Lagerfeld was also born out of a shared passion for French history of the eighteenth century. In 1987, with his arrival at Vogue America, Anna Wintour wanted him alongside as a fashion director first, then as an artistic director and finally as the fashion editor at large.
André had an artistic and creative partnership with Anna Wintour which lasted 30 years. The end of the friendship – a real bombshell in the fashion industry – was told in his memoir, where Talley said vitriolic words about his former colleague, calling her “incapable of kindness” and “immune to everything except power“. In the book Talley also openly denounced the prejudices and discrimination suffered in his long career. Talley was also known to the general public for his role as a judge on America’s Next Top Model television show.
During his long career André Leon Talley had worked closely with all the fashion giants: he was the friend and confidant of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, and worked with Paloma Picasso, Diane von Furstenberg, Bethann Hardison, Manolo Blahnik. Authoritative journalist and talent scout, many designers owe their success to his unfailing eye. One name above all: John Galliano.
Talley was loved and equally feared: during his long career he had written edgy and provocative editorials. His figure was however revolutionary in a very exclusive industry, which has only recently opened up to more ethnic and cultural diversity, Talley has undermined ancient taboos and prejudices. He pushed many designers to choose black models in their castings and used his influence to open the pages of Vogue to diversity.
“Without you, there would be no me,” wrote Edward Enninful, the first Black editor to helm British Vogue as editor-in-chief. “Thank you for paving the way.”. While Naomi Campbell added on her Instagram: “Andre is on his way to the otherside and will drape you all in divine larger than life luxury. I love you always Naomi“.