One of fashion's most prominent figures, André Leon Talley, passed away on January 19, 2022. Though the official cause of death is yet to be terminated, André Leon Talley was in the hospital, and his friend, Dr. Yvonne Cormier, said it was related to Covid-19 complications.
André Leon Talley had an impressive career as a journalist, but he was also a force of change, supporting Black voices and the LGBTQ community in fashion and further.
His friend, Dr. Cormier, stated that André Leon Talley's death could result from an underlying issue caused by his weight. He tried dieting throughout his life, but it was unsuccessful.
André Leon Talley was larger than life in many senses: he was tall, flamboyant, and his way with words was quite extraordinary.
For decades, the former editor-at-large of US Vogue, André Leon Talley, worked side by side with Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington. Despite humble beginnings, Talley came to NYC in the early 70s and was soon surrounded by the elite crowd of NYC's fashion scene. Legendary Diana Vreeland was among the first to spot his brilliance, and she hired him as a Special Consultant for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Brown University graduate was into Club 54 scene, hanging out with all the glorious characters, from Warhol, Diane Von Furstenberg, Halston, and Karl Lagerfeld, to singers Diana Ross and Grace Jones.
Though he was an LGBTQ icon, André never cared for labels, calling his sexuality "fluid."
By the early 80s, he had already worked for Interview, WWD, W Magazine, and The New York Times, and his next stop was Vogue.
He was Vogue's creative director from 1988 to 1995, then went back to W, but was back in Vogue as a contributing editor and then Editor-at-Large.
André Leon Talley helped Michelle Obama as her style advisor. Despite his liberal views, he praised Melania Trump's style, showing that he genuinely was above any pettiness contributed to the fashion world.
His memoirs, The Chiffon Trenches, describe Talley's road to success, from racism, growing up with his grandma, to always chasing his dreams and realizing them.
Talking to TIME magazine in 2020, he stated:
"When I confronted these moments of racism, I controlled my narrative by making choices. This is what people do to black men; they criminalize their very existence, and they dehumanize them, even in the highest, loftiest world of fashion. But I did not become victimized. I simply soldiered on and did my work."
André Leon Talley's initial dream was to teach French. But, thanks to fashion gods, and his inspiring voice, he made fashion more influential than anyone imagined. He was sharp, witty, unforgettable in numerous ways.
His death is a saddening loss that goes beyond the fashion world. We hope he is in a better place, as he wrote:
"I do believe there's a heaven. I do believe that God has given me the resilience and the survival skills to withstand the chiffon trenches."