Fashion Remembers the Iconic André Leon Talley, Who Has Died at 73

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André Leon Talley
Photo by Craig Barritt via Getty Images

André Leon Talley, a figure so iconic in fashion that he defied definition, has died at age 73. The New York Times confirmed the news early Wednesday morning, reporting that he died “after a series of health struggles.” Talley was not only a tastemaker, author, academic, bon vivant, and groundbreaking Black editor at the top of the fashion field, but also foremost among those to call the industry out on its racism, which he experienced firsthand for decades.

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1948 and raised in the Jim Crow-era South, Talley originally pursued a career in teaching, having earned his master’s degree in French literature at Brown University. After attending his first fashion show, he packed up a “navy coat, two pairs of velvet Rive Gauche trousers, two silk Rive Gauche shirts, and [his] first bespoke black silk faille smoking shoes” and moved to New York City. He soon became an unpaid apprentice to Diana Vreeland, and after getting his start at Interview, wrote for Women’s Wear Daily, which appointed him its Paris bureau chief. Following the first of two stints at this very magazine, he began his longtime, influential tenure at Vogue. In 1988, he was appointed the magazine’s first (and so far only) Black creative director.

Talley quickly became a front-row fixture—reliably in a majestic cape or caftan, and often alongside Anna Wintour, his righthand at Vogue. By then, he had cultivated close relationships with titans such as Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, though it wasn’t until the release of The September Issue (2009) that his name fully became mainstream. From there, Talley starred in his own documentary, The Gospel According to André (2017), and published his second memoir, The Chiffon Trenches. The 2020 bestseller made waves for his unflinching critique of and candid experience in the fashion industry (not to mention quips and delightfully hyperbolic quotes).

As news of Talley’s death spread across social media on Tuesday night, tributes poured in from all corners of fashion and Hollywood. Read remembrances Naomi Campbell, Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, Cardi B, Jeremy O. Harris, and more below.

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