As The Fashion World Mourns André Leon Talley, We Look Back At His Most Memorable Quotes

The industry legend passed away at the age of 73.

André Leon Talley

by Natalie Hammond |

André Leon Talley, an inimitable presence in the fashion world since the '80s, has passed away at the age of 73. As a famously charismatic interviewee - as well as an incredibly well-read man - Talley's quotes from over the years are almost as famous as his custom-made kaftans. Here, we look back at some of his most illuminating from the past five years...

'You can be aristocratic, without having been born into an aristocratic family,' - The Gospel According to André, 2018

'I scorched the earth with my talent and I let my light shine,' - The Guardian, 2020

'I wish fashion was an easier zone to navigate through. It’s arctic: You have to get through so many icebergs. It’s very cruel, yet it can also be very exciting,' - The New York Times, 2018

André Leon Talley in 2013
André Leon Talley in 2013 ©Getty

'My book was called The Chiffon Trenches; it's about living life in these trenches. There are sometimes victories, but the journey is never always just a grand, dazzling, glamorous moment. I had struggles with my weight. I've had struggles with racial inequality that I have resolved in my own way,' - i-D, 2021

'In my daily life, when I was at the apogee of my career, my ethnic color did not affect who I was. What affected me was the injustices, the racist statements that were made about me. I handled it by resigning from Women’s Wear Daily, because I had my own dignity. I am not made by the fashion world. I am made by coming up in the South in my grandmother’s home with great values of tradition, passion, education, religion and being properly decent. So when I confronted these moments of racism, I controlled my narrative by making choices. This is what people do to Black men; they criminalize their very existence and they dehumanize them, even in the highest, loftiest world of fashion. But I did not become victimized. I simply soldiered on and did my work,' - Time__, 2020

'My mother figure to this day is my grandmother. She gave me unconditional love and her home, her values, were my arc of safety,' - The Guardian, 2020

André Leon Talley with Whoopi Goldberg
With Whoopi Goldberg in 2010 ©Getty

'Diane von Furstenberg said, ‘He was afraid to fall in love,’ and I guess I was. I guess I was afraid, and I guess I was repressed. I grew up in a very strict household. But being in this world, moving around 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,' The New York Times, 2018

'The fact that we have our first female Vice President, that she is Black, a woman of colour, and the daughter of an immigrant, is a very historical thing. That's the highest level of achievement, and I'm very feeling very proud that I've lived to see that. And I'm very proud to witness so many moments of inclusion that were not allowed before for people of colour. We're seeing it in every walk of life: the entertainment industry, movies, music, writing, literature. I feel that the country is evolving. Unfortunately, it’s sadly due to the tragedy of George Floyd's death and Ahmaud Arbery's death and Breonna Taylor's death that the country universally awoke to America’s systemic racism, and people marched into the streets. But it was a rainbow coalition of people walking the streets protesting these injustices. I feel that we've been empowered by the tragedies that we've experienced — terrible tragedies and terrible losses of life — and we move forward,' -i-D, 2021

'Every Sunday I would walk across the railroad tracks into the affluent part of Durham and buy Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and go back to my grandmother’s house, read my magazines. I was allowed to retreat from the bullying and the sexual abuse into a beautiful world,' - The Guardian, 2020

André Leon Talley and Iman
With Iman in 2005 ©Getty

'I look around everywhere and say, ‘Where are the Black people?’ I think fashion tries to skirt the issue and finds convenient ways to spin it. There are examples of evolution, but they are few and far between. The biggest leap of faith was Edward Enninful becoming editor of British Vogue — that was an extraordinary thing. Virgil Abloh getting Louis Vuitton men’s wear,' The New York Times, 2018

'I’m a descendant of enslaved people, and this is always in my mind. Whatever I articulate must in some way reflect who I am as a Black man and what I can impart to the history of fashion, as this Black person who was able to be in the front row,' The Guardian, 2020

André Leon Talley with Anna Wintour
With Anna Wintour in 2008 ©Getty

'I was brought up to be a quiet advocate for the injustices that have been going on for hundreds of years in this country based on the idea of white supremacy, which is really a vile, terrible thing. I hope that I’ve contributed something,' Time, 2020

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