André Leon Talley, the famous fashion editor, has died aged 73. At 6 feet 6 inches tall and rarely seen in anything other than a dramatic, voluminous kaftan, it’s true his physical presence was imposing. But it is what he brought to fashion with his intellect, wit, charm and tenacity which leaves an indelible mark few will forget.
Talley certainly lived a life less ordinary, in every sense of the phrase. Born On October 16, 1948 in Washington D.C, Talley was raised by his grandmother in Durham, North Carolina, which is where he was instilled with Southern values which governed the rest of his life. He suffered sexual abuse and regularly encountered racism but said he found solace in fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
At the beginning of his career, having received a master’s degree from Brown University, he met Diana Vreeland in New York and, through her, entered the rarefied world of publishing. One of his first jobs was as a receptionist at Interview magazine under Andy Warhol. From that moment on, he was clearly destined for greatness, befriending the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, working for Women’s Wear Daily in Paris and, later, Vogue, alongside Anna Wintour.
Not only did he become a creative advisor and friend to Wintour, he famously helped to dress Michelle Obama when she was First Lady and became a mentor to Naomi Campbell, too. There were few designers who weren’t, in some way, connected to Talley whose irrepressible personality led to multiple TV appearances, public speaking events and, in 2020, his incredible memoir The Chiffon Trenches was published.
In it, he wrote: ‘To my 12-year-old self, raised in the segregated South, the idea of a Black man playing any kind of role in this world seemed an impossibility. To think of where I’ve come from, where we’ve come from, in my lifetime, and where we are today, is amazing. And, yet, of course, we still have so far to go.’
Over the years, Talley was regularly photographed with some of the most famous faces in the world. From dancing with Diana Ross at Studio 54 to sipping champagne in cars with Mariah Carey, there are few superstars who weren't been dazzled by Talley's charms. Here, we celebrate his life in pictures, remembering a fun, bright, witty, intellectual trailblazer who changed the very face of the fashion industry for the better.
SEE: Andru00e9 Leon Talley: His Extraordinary Life In Pictures
With Mariah Carey in New York City.
With Diane von Furstenberg on 5 February, 2006
Henri Bendel and Diane Von Furstenberg launch "DVF" Beauty
Andre Leon Talley and Iman hosts the MAC Cosmetics Launch Party for Andre Leon Talley's New Book, "A.L.T. 365.
Andre Leon Talley congratulates Jennifer Lopez backstage after a showing of her Fall 2005 collection in the Tent at Bryant Park during Fashion Week.
Cher and fashion editor Andre Leon Tally attend The Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute Gala Mongraphic Exhibition "Gianni Versace" on 9 December 1997 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Mariah Carey Hosts The Launch Party for her new album "The Emncipation Of Mimi" in New York City on April 21, 2005.
Andre Leon Talley and Naomi Campbell greet each other at a 1991 Los Angeles, California, fashion show.
Andre Leon Talley and Renee Zellweger at the 2003 CFDA Fashion Awards.
Andre Leon Talley and Karl Lagerfeld during 1995 Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.
Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Tilley attend the 7th on Sixth Fashion show October 30, 1996 in New York City.
Marc Jacobs and Leon Andre Talley at a Paris Haute Couture fashion show and cocktail party.
Diana Ross and Andre Leon Talley dancing at Studio 54 in 1979 in New York City.
Andre Leon Talley and Anna Wintour attend the Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, 1999.