Andre Leon Talley served as not only a fashion icon but an iconic Black Voice in the industry of fashion. He advocated for the representation of Black women on the runway, and he was the only Black man to serve as a creative director at Vogue. He was also the author of several books including the memoir The Chiffon Trenches.
Talley’s official Instagram shared “It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Andre Leon Talley on January 18, 2022 in New York.” They made statements saying how he was “larger than life.” He truly was an influential figure in the talent industry. He nurtured many and celebrated young designers.
He was raised by his grandmother in the Jim Crow South. He first rose to prominence in New York City in the ’70s before he made his journey to Paris where he worked for Women’s Wear Daily.
He then made his metamorphosis into a fashion news director at Vogue in the mid-1980s and then into a creative director in 1995. He left for a short moment but returned in 1998 as the editor-at-large until his departure from the business in 2013.
Talley also was a judge on “America’s Next Top Model” from March 2010 to December 2011.
There was a documentary dedicated to him called The Gospel According to Andre. The documentary opened with him saying, “I don’t live for fashion; I live for beauty and style. Fashion is fleeting, style remains.”
He is celebrated by many for his affinity for fashion, style, and his overall appreciation for the arts. Many learned so much from him. His fashion history is impeccable and unlike any other.
Talley was a major force behind increased diversity on runways, and an advocate for LGBTQ+ voices. However, he never defined his sexuality. He frequently called himself “Fluid.”
Talley’s memoir was released in 2020 and was billed as being about his time working for Vogue. He also detailed his complicated relationship with Wintour. In an interview with TODAY’s Al Roker, he explained how his fashion story was one of survival.
I think it’s important that every man of color who has been born in this country who is a descendant of enslaved people of African descent tells a story because every day is a struggle for a Black man, no matter what station in life you’ve achieved.
I could have been George Floyd. I could have been Ahmed Arbury. Really nothing has changed. So my story is a story of how to survive all odds, no matter what the odds are.Andre Leon Talley on TODAY | 2020
Andre Leon Talley was a force to be reckoned with and was an icon in many senses. He was a cultural influencer who spoke on the challenges he faced when climbing the ranks of the fashion world as a larger Black man (He was around 6 feet, 7 inches).
He will always serve as a role model for those who aspire to transcend the norm. He believed in the power of a well-placed seam and the perfectly polished shoe, the way the shallowest of objects can transform our deepest aspirations into reality.
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 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.The Chiffon Trenches, Andre Leon Talley
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