Fashion icon and former Vogue editor André Leon Talley has died at the age of 73, a statement posted to his official Instagram confirmed on Tuesday.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of André Leon Talley on January 18, 2022 in New York City,” the statement read. “Mr. Talley was the larger-than-life longtime creative director of Vogue during its rise to prominence as the global fashion bible.”
The cause of his death has not been revealed.
“Over the past five decades as an international icon, he has been a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers. His signature is appeared in Vanity Fair, HG, Interview, Ebony and Women’s Wear Daily and he was editor-in-chief of Numero Russia,” the statement continued. “Mr. Talley has written several books, including Valentino, ALT: A Memoir, ALT 365+ and Little Black Dress for Assouline, and has contributed to Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table and Cartier Panthère. He was the subject of the documentary The Gospel According to Andrew and his recent memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, became a New York Times bestseller.”
Talley was an American fashion journalist known for his work in shaping American Vogue and fashion as a whole. He was the magazine’s fashion information director from 1983 to 1987 and its creative director from 1988 to 1995. He was later named editor-in-chief, a position he held until 2013.
Talley, who later became the head of Numéro Russie magazine, remained an occasional contributor to Vogue after his departure as editor, and in 2019 wrote an article in honor of his late friend, the designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died in February of the same year.
“In 2014, he was named Artistic Director of Zappos Couture, and has served on the board of Savannah College of Art and Design since 2000,” the statement read on his Instagram account. “Mr. Talley was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République française in 2020 and the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Literature in 2021. He was a longtime member of the Baptist Church Abyssinian from Harlem.”
Besides her contributions to Vogue, the six-foot-six star, known and loved for her sense of humor, honesty and loud, luxurious personal style – especially when it comes to designer kaftans – was an author, a curator and television personality. He starred in “America’s Next Top Model” for four seasons, as a judge, made cameos on “Empire” and the first film “Sex and the City”, dressed and profiled then first lady Michelle Obama for Vogue, had a front row seat at the world’s most prestigious couture shows, became the muse and confidant of many designers – including Oscar de la Renta, for whom he curated a museum exhibition in 2018 – and, for many years, was the right arm of the great lady of fashion: Anna Wintour.
In 2017, filmmaker Kate Novack released a documentary, ‘The Gospel According to André’, about the style legend – from his humble upbringing to his rise to the top of the fashion industry.
Throughout his career, the native of Durham, North Carolina has worked to introduce more culturally diverse voices into the predominantly white fashion industry and has spoken about his struggles against the racism. In his 2020 book, “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir,” he recalled the emotion he felt when Edward Enninful was named British Vogue’s first black editor. That same year, Talley sent shockwaves through the fashion world when he spoke about the lack of black talent at Vogue. “At one point I was the only black person on Anna’s staff,” he told MailOnline.
In his 2003 memoir, ‘ALT’, Talley described his childhood in Durham, where he was raised by his grandmother and worked as a taxi driver to save money. While in college, he enrolled at Central University of North Carolina, where he majored in French, and later earned a scholarship to Brown University, for his master’s degree. Shortly after graduating, Talley got her first fashion job as a volunteer assistant to Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Once inside the fashion bubble, he landed a job at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, where his journalism career took off, then moved on to WWD, Vanity Fair, Vogue and various other publications.
Talley had largely stayed away from social media since 2021, when he was embroiled in a financial mess over ownership of the Westchester mansion he’s lived in since 2004, which was previously owned by former CEO Manolo Blahnik .
After learning of her death, fashion insiders and friends took to social media to share their condolences and honor her memory.
Designer Diane von Furstenberg wrote on Instagram: “Goodbye darling André ❤️🙏…no one saw the world more glamorously than you ❤️🙏…no one was bigger and more moving than you ❤️🙏… the world will be less happy I ❤️🙏 I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years…I miss your loud cries…I love you so much ❤️🙏.”
Marc Jacobs posted a photo of himself with Talley on Instagram and wrote in the caption: “I’m in shock. You’ve stood up for me and been my friend since I started. Our talks, the times we had shared… oh my friend. You and your passions were larger than life. I love you and I will miss you dear André. Rest in peace.”
Lindsay Peoples Wagner, editor of The Cut, wrote on Instagram: “I don’t even know how to understand all that you have done and the legacy you have left, but you have given us hope and aspirations that we never would have dreamed of if it weren’t for you andre.