André Leon Talley, fashion icon and cultural influencer, has died aged 73


André Leon Talley, an influential fashion journalist and former creative director and editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, died Tuesday in New York at the age of 73. His death was confirmed by many publications by his literary agent David Vigliano.

Talley was Vogue’s fashion news director from 1983 to 1987 and then creative director from 1988 to 1995. Talley was also a judge on America’s Next Top Model and was featured in a 2018 documentary film directed by Kate Novack called “The Gospel According to André.” The film screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2017 and was released on May 25, 2018 published in the US.

For the record:

10:30 p.m. January 18, 2022A previous version of this article states that The Gospel According to André was screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2016. It was shown in 2017.

Reviewer Katie Walsh called the film “an intriguing look at the self-imagined André Leon Talley, a bold, daring creation who never let anything get in the way of his passions, curiosity and whims.”

Talley often spoke of the challenges he faced as he climbed the ranks in the fashion world as a taller black man. Racism and other isms were barriers to success, and he addressed many of them in the film.

“How did I overcome this kind of racism? I internalized it and struggled with it. … I ignored it at the time … I had family and faith and [the late former Vogue editor] Woman. [Diana] Vreeland and [the late former Women’s Wear Daily editor in chief] Mister. [John] fairchild.

“It was courage, luck and survival skills.”

in one 2013 Vanity Fair feature, Talley has been described as “perhaps the industry’s most important link to the past”. Designer Tom Ford told Talley magazine that he was “one of the last great fashion editors with an incredible grasp of fashion history. … He can see through everything you do with the original reference and predict what was on your inspiration board.”

His relationship with Vogue began at Duke University, where his grandmother cleaned dormitories; Talley went to campus in his youth to read the magazine.

Talley was also a well-known figure to television audiences outside of America’s Top Model circle, having appeared on Sex and the City and Empire.

Raised in Durham, NC, Talley worked a variety of jobs before moving to New York in the 1970s. He even worked as a park ranger in Washington, DC and Maryland, telling visitors about slaves who used Ft. Washington and disguised as a Civil War soldier, he told the Associated Press in 2003.

Talley also rose to fame as a fashion consultant to the Obama family. He introduced Michelle Obama to designer Jason Wu, who then designed her opening dress.

Talley has written numerous books, including two memoirs, and published The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir on May 19, 2020. In it he talks about his start in New York City in the 1970s and his relationship with Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and the fight against racism in the fashion world.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. André Leon Talley, fashion icon and cultural influencer, has died aged 73

Caroline Bleakley

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