Pioneering Vogue Editor, Andre Leon Talley has passed at the age of 73. A sensational character and an extravagant vestige in fashion, Talley’s career spanned over three decades. His fabulous capes and pronouncements were only second to his larger-than-life fashion sense.
News broke out of his death by a heart attack on Tuesday the 18th of January. Social media was awash with tributes and sympathies for the late fashion icon.
“The loss of André is felt by so many of us today: the designers he enthusiastically cheered on every season, and who loved him for it; the generations he inspired to work in the industry, seeing a figure who broke boundaries while never forgetting where he started from; those who knew fashion, and Vogue, simply because of him; and, not forgetting, the multitude of colleagues over the years who were consistently buoyed by every new discovery of André’s, which he would discuss loudly, and volubly—no one could make people more excited about the most seemingly insignificant fashion details than him. Even his stream of colorful faxes and emails were a highly anticipated event, something we all looked forward to,” said Anna Wintour.
Talley started out in fashion with an apprenticeship to Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. From the Met, Talley went on to work at Andy Warhol’s Interview, Women’s Wear Daily, and the New York Times, before taking the fashion news director job at Vogue in 1983.
Anna Wintour named him creative director in 1988 and aside from a three-year run when he contributed to W magazine from Paris, he continued to work at Vogue until 2013.
Among his many famous appearances includes a brief stint as a judge on Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model.
André Leon Talley was born in Washington, D.C. in 1948 and was raised by his grandmother, a cleaning woman at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, during Jim Crow. He went on to Brown University, where he earned his master’s degree in French literature. “I loved my home and my family,” he told Vogue, when the documentary of his life was released. “I went to school and to church and I did what I was told and I didn’t talk much. But I knew life was bigger than that.
May this giant of a fashion rest in perfect peace and may his radiant spirit continue to shine on in fashion today and tomorrow.
Rest well, Andre-Leon Talley. Your influence lives on.