Legendary Vogue editor André Leon Talley dies at 73

January 20, 2022

The larger-than-life figure was hugely influential both at American Vogue, where he worked for three decades, and in the fashion world at large.

André Leon Talley

André Leon Talley, former Vogue editor and a force to be reckoned with in the world of fashion, has passed away at the age of 73. Reports state that Talley died at a hospital in White Plains, NY. Talley’s career is inextricably entwined with Vogue, where he worked from 1983 to 2013, moving from heading the fashion news division at US Vogue to becoming its creative director, until finally becoming editor-at-large before his eventual departure from the magazine.

Talley, whose personal sense of style made him synonymous with diaphanous robes cut in flowing fabrics, traced his affinity for fashion back to the church he attended as a child, growing up in North Carolina with his grandmother. Born in 1948, Talley encountered his first Vogue magazine at a church library at the age of nine, and thus began a relationship that would come to define a portion of his life.

Talley’s first stint in fashion was working with the legendary Diana Vreeland, after which he moved to Interview magazine, which was still headed by Andy Warhol at the time. Talley then moved on to Women’s Wear Daily, where he rose through the ranks to become Paris bureau chief.

Despite his personal accomplishments, Talley is perhaps best known for his dedication to uplifting Black models, ensuring that more were sent down the runway at major fashion weeks and included in the pages of publications like Vogue. He is also credited as being the first to introduce former First Lady Michelle Obama to designer Jason Wu, who went on to design her inauguration gown. Throughout his years in the industry, Talley became known for the ways in which he strove to both create more space for people of colour in fashion, and give back to the community that raised him, all while standing out as the first African American man to become a voice of authority in fashion.

During his life, Talley wrote two books: The Chiffon Trenches and A.L.T., was a judge on several seasons of the hit show America’s Next Top Model, made cameos on pop-culture mainstays like Sex and the City and The First Monday in May, a documentary about the Met Gala, and was the subject of the documentary, The Gospel According to André. His work leaves a lasting legacy that will not be forgotten.