MANILA, Philippines – Pioneering fashion journalist André Leon Talley died on January 18. He was 73.
His death was announced in a January 19 post on his official Instagram page.
Talley is known for breaking boundaries in the fashion world, becoming the first male and Black creative director of Vogue US in 1988.
He was born on October 16, 1948 and was raised by his grandmother in North Carolina, which was beset by racial segregation. After finishing college and later earning a master’s degree in French at Brown University, he moved to New York City, diving into the fashion industry as a reporter for Women’s Wear Daily, and as assistant to artist Andy Warhol.
He then joined Vogue – the magazine where he first discovered fashion as a child – as its fashion news director in 1983. He would become creative director a few years later. In 1995, he moved to Paris to join W, but ultimately returned to Vogue to become the magazine’s editor-at-large.
Throughout his career, Talley advocated for more diversity in fashion, urging designers to include Black models on the runway and in ads.
He became famous in the mainstream as a judge on several seasons of the hit reality show America’s Next Top Model, doling out critique in his trademark dramatic cloaks. He also played himself in a cameo in the 2008 Sex and the City film.
In his latter years, he released a memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, which details his journey in the fashion industry, including his early days in New York City, and dealing with racism as a Black man in fashion.
Tributes poured in for Talley as Hollywood and the fashion world mourned his loss.
Designer Bob Mackie thanked Talley on Instagram for his “knowledge and passion for fashion and glamor.”
Stylist Carson Kressley remembered him as “an icon, a trailblazer, a journalist, a scholar, an exuberant lover of fashion, and most importantly a friend and supporter of so many in the business.”
Hollywood costume designer Arianne Phillips described him as many things, including a “dapper gentleman” and “larger than life icon.” She said “his contribution to fashion and culture is one for the history books.”
Meanwhile, designer Diane Von Furstenburg said on Instagram: “No one was more soulful and grander than you were…the world will be less joyful now.” – Rappler.com