Fashion media icon André Leon Talley passed away on Tuesday at the age of 73.
A post to his verified Instagram account shared the news.
“It is with great sadness we announce the passing of André Leon Talley on January 18, 2022, in New York. Mr. Talley was the larger-than-life, longtime creative director at Vogue during its rise to dominance as the world’s fashion bible. Over the past five decades as an international icon was a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso, Diane von Furstenberg, Bethann Hardison, Manolo Blahnik and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers. His byline appeared in Vanity Fair, HG, Interview, Ebony and Women’s Wear Daily and he was the editor of Numero Russia.”
“Mr. Talley wrote several books, including Valentino, A.L.T.: A Memoir, A.L.T. 365+ and Little Black Dress for Assouline, and contributed to Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table and Cartier Panthère,” the post continued. “He was the subject of the documentary The Gospel According to André and his recent memoir, The Chiffon Trenches became a New York Times Best Seller. In 2014, he was named artistic director of Zappos Couture, and he has been on the Board of Trustees of Savannah College of Art and Design since 2000. Mr. Talley was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Republic in 2020 and the North Carolina Governor’s award for literature in 2021. He was a long-standing member of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. 🕊”
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The U.S. Vogue editor-at-large and fashion director died in a White Plains, New York hospital. No cause of death has been issued, according to Variety.
The Brown University-educated fashion guru was known as the fickle industry’s beloved authorities on fashion and trends. Touted as one of the biggest Black American authorities on fashion, the larger-than-life journalist came from humble beginnings in Durham, North Carolina. He was raised by his grandparents and fondly remembered his grandmother as the woman who made sure he had everything.
In his 2003 memoir “A.L.T.,” he penned, “We always had clothes to wear and food on the table, but we lived on limited means. Our roof leaked buckets of water when the snow melted, and if the pipes froze, my grandmother heated water on the wood-burning stove so I could take a ‘bird bath’ before school.”
Leaning to fashion in his teens, Talley was enamored with Vogue and was the first to bring the magazine into his home. He began his tenure with the luxe publication as a fashion news director from 1983–88, creative director, 1988–95 and editor-at-large, 1998- 2013.
His illustrious career in fashion didn’t always ensure that he was free from discrimination. In May, Talley told Tamron Hall that he had just discovered that he only earned $300,000 as a fashion editor while his white counterparts earned triple the salary.
“I just found out two weeks ago from someone of authority that women at Vogue, high, high-rate fashion editors made close to a million dollars. I never made that much in a year,” Talley told Hall, who he considers a friend. “I made almost $300,000, but people on the same level, maybe they were doing more work than the fashion photoshoots, were making $900,000 a year.”
He was also called out by a Black former writer for Vanity Fair for not paying it forward.
“He never sent me a note or offered anything, but I understand … He never mentored any of the black kids at Condé,” George Wayne told Page Six. “I hate to talk in black and white, but facts are facts.”
Twitter users quickly reacted to news of the fashion icon’s death.
andré leon talley, 1984.
photo by andy warhol 💔 pic.twitter.com/V4mXaD1mLc
— maya cade (@mayascade) January 19, 2022
One of my favorite moments from André Leon Talley with Rihanna, RIP to a legend🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/eoG1z87Uuo
— Black Lives Still Matter (@wiz_thcreator) January 19, 2022
Andre Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and André Leon Talley, 1984. pic.twitter.com/8pu9Kfv66b
— Rachel Seville Tashjian (@theprophetpizza) January 19, 2022
Too many greats entering the ancestral realm.
But their impact will always be felt and spoken about.
Rest well, André Leon Talley. pic.twitter.com/U0JlcLa5a1
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) January 19, 2022
When other Black people decided (and still) to make a mockery of the southern church mothers, André Leon Talley recognized that many of us learned aspirational, sophisticated womanhood from those women. Clean homes, cooking from scratch, brooches, gloves, how to “BE.”
— blocking specialist (@fancytomboy) January 19, 2022
The passing of André Leon Talley is heavy on my heart mainly because I don’t think we celebrate our older queer icons enough. Especially considering that when they were coming up there were no GLAAD Awards, OUT 100, or any public recognition. So many have stood in their
— Kalen Allen (@TheKalenAllen) January 19, 2022
Talley’s imprint on fashion will remain with us for years to come. RIP, Sir.