May 28, 2022

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Dress like a Boss

Andre Leon Talley, Vogue Editor and Fashion Legend, Dies at 73

Roy Rochlin/Getty for Tribeca Film Festival

Roy Rochlin/Getty for Tribeca Film Festival

Fashion icon Andre Leon Talley has died at 73.

Talley died at a hospital in White Plains, New York, according to TMZ. A cause of death has not been revealed.

Often clad in giant, flowing robes, Talley was a towering figure—he stood six feet six inches tall—in the heyday of America’s most prominent fashion magazine, Vogue. Talley headed the glossy publication’s fashion news division from 1983 to 1987, became the its creative director in 1988, and then moved on to the role of editor-at-large, which he held until 2013. He continued to contribute to the magazine afterward.

Born in 1948 in North Carolina, he attributed his sense of style and eye for fashion to the churches he attended growing up with his grandmother, who raised him after his parents left. It was there around age 9 that he first found Vogue at his local library.

After moving to New York City and working with Diana Vreeland, he got his start in media working for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, followed by stints at W and Women’s Wear Daily, where he became Paris bureau chief.

Talley’s network and influence grew to be vast. He advised Barack and Michelle Obama on their style in 2008, first introducing Michelle Obama to the designer of her inaugural gown, Jason Wu. He used his sway throughout his years in fashion media to advocate for more Black models both on runways and in magazine spreads, noting how a Black editor stood out at predominantly white fashion shows in Paris, Milan, and New York City.

His departure from Vogue was a rocky one. In a memoir published mid-2020, The Chiffon Trenches, the former editor scorched his boss and close collaborator Anna Wintour, though the two had ascended the ranks of the Condé Nast empire together. He accused her of abandoning him after he was “no longer of value to her.” She didn’t even call on his birthday, he said.

“I have huge emotional and psychological scars from my relationship with this towering and influential woman,” he wrote at the time. “Simple human kindness. No, she is not capable.”

He wrote in the book that he hoped “that she will find a way to apologize before I die… Not a day goes by when I do not think of Anna Wintour.”

Talley was the author of another memoir, A.L.T., and his larger-than-life persona made for engaging television that put his acumen for apparel on full display. He judged multiple seasons of America’s Next Top Model, appeared on Sex and the City, and often dropped by The Wendy Williams Show. He featured heavily in The September Issue, a 2009 documentary about Vogue’s production, and the 2018 documentary, The Gospel According to Andre, was a paean to his remarkable life.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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