André Leon Talley, famed fashion editor, creative director, stylist, and author among many more things, passed away on January 18, 2022 at the age of 73 at a hospital in White Plains, New York. His passing was announced officially on social media and reads as follows:
“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. 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.”
Talley, a native of Durham, North Carolina, often talked about how being raised by his Grandmother Beenie Frances Davis and watching her get ready for Sunday services inspired his interest in style. Talley attended North Carolina Central University, an HBCU, and Brown University where he earned his Bachelor and Master degrees in French Literature respectively. He entered into the world of fashion in the early ‘70s and his legacy spans decades. Often the only black person in the room, Talley was often the subject of critique on how he chose to move through and influence those spaces. He fought hard to have more black people included in all aspects of fashion and championed designers of color. Though his life often appeared lush and glamorous, as a 6 ft. 6 black man from the south, he experienced racism all the same. He dealt with it by choosing to be unapologetically himself. “You don’t get up and say, ‘Look, I’m Black and I’m proud,’” he explained in “The Gospel According to André,” the 2018 autobiographical documentary. “You just do it. And somehow it impacts the culture.”
His impact was felt, and his presence will be missed.