Seth Little / AP
Journalist and fashion icon André Leon Talley died Tuesday in a hospital in White Plains, New York. He was 73 years old.
For decades, he was the greatest creative director and general editor of Rowing magazine, considered the bible of fashion.
At 6’6 “, Talley held court in the world of high fashion. Wearing elegant suits, dresses, capes and caftans, he was a royal presence.” You can be an aristocrat without being born into an aristocratic family, “he said.
In his memory The chiffon trenches, published in May 2020, Talley wrote that he was raised by his grandmother in segregated Durham, North Carolina. She said going to church with her sparked her passion for fashion.
“I saw the style in church,” she told NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates the same month. “I saw the style in my grandmother’s sisters. They were all well dressed. The church was the core of our life, the church. Going to church was fundamental to our existence.”
He also told NPR that when he was young he was mistreated by at least one man in his neighborhood. “I didn’t want to tell my grandmother because I knew, whatever it was, it was very dark, it was wrong, but that I would be blamed for it,” he said. “And the other person, the authors, wouldn’t do that.”
Talley was silent on this and continued his studies. He graduated with a BA in French literature from North Carolina Central University, then earned a master’s degree from Brown. After graduation, he traveled to New York to do his apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a letter of introduction from a classmate’s father, he met legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland. He then introduced Talley to Andy Warhol, and that’s how he started working for Interview magazine. He also worked at w, The New York Times And Women’s clothing every day, where he was the head of the Paris office.
This was before his long reign in Rowing. Talley’s latest official Instagram post noted that he had been very confident with other fashion icons: Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso, Diane von Furstenberg, who wrote a social media tribute: “Goodbye dear André. No one saw the world in a more fascinating way than you. No one was bigger and more soulful than you. The world will be less joyful. I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years … I miss your loud screams … I love you very much. “
Talley was also an important figure in the LGBTQ + community, but kind of a unicorn in the fashion industry. He told NPR that his presence confused some: “I was smart and I showed it,” he said. “It goes back to when people fail to understand who you are and are afraid of you – and while you boldly, confidently show who you are in the world, some people are just afraid of seeing someone tall and black suddenly come to the surface.”
Talley said he suffered racist slurs, but kept his head held high. “You don’t make a loud noise. You don’t scream. You don’t stand up and say, look, Hey, I’m loud. I’m black and I’m proud. You just do it. And then it gets recognized and somehow it has an impact on the culture.”
Her impact was felt at the Met galas, where she was red carpet correspondent, and so on America’s next flagship model, where he was judge. Its impact was felt a Rowing, where he wrote about Michelle Obama and the first black photographer to shoot at Rowing lid. Talley’s impact was also felt on the fashion runways, where she pushed to include more black designers and models.