Home Fashion glasses Treasure of the fashion world, André Leon Talley was impossible to ignore

Treasure of the fashion world, André Leon Talley was impossible to ignore

12
0

Vogue editor and fashion icon Andre Leon Tally attends The CW: It’s A Reality at Simyone Lounge on February 23, 2010 in New York City.

Countess Jemal/Getty Images

You couldn’t miss André Leon Talley.

Six foot six. Decked out in gorgeous capes and caftans, classic tailored suits, fur coats and album-sized sunglasses. The legendary fashion editor died suddenly and unexpectedly at 73, apparently from a heart attack.

“Andrew was hard to ignore,” says Karen Grigsby Bates of NPR’s Codeswitch podcast. “He was tall and tall with a big voice.”

This voice resonated with the authority of fashion from an early age. Raised by his grandmother in Durham, North Carolina, in the 1950s, Talley partly escaped the vicious racial politics of the time by immersing himself in copies of Vogue at the local public library. He attended Brown University on a scholarship, majored in French literature and immediately afterward apprenticed with former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland at the Met’s Costume Institute in 1974.

From there, Talley moved into the hot center of the fashion universe: he worked for Interview Magazine, Women’s Wear Daily and of course Vogue, where he was a star editorial mainstay for decades, from 1983. But being the only black person on the mastheads and front row of shows had a psychic impact, which he discussed in his two memoirs, the last of which came out in 2017.

“Fashion doesn’t take care of its people,” Talley told The New York Times in 2018. “No one will take care of me, except I will take care of myself.”

But Talley took care of the others. As a judge on America’s Next Top Model, he was sharp and insightful, never cruel. He campaigned for more black and diverse representation in fashion, from celebrities gracing the covers of Vogue to designers who dressed his models.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

1979: Diana Ross and André Leon Talley dance at Studio 54 in New York.

1979: Diana Ross and André Leon Talley dance at Studio 54 in New York.

Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images

1980: André Leon Talley and Marina Schiano in New York.

1980: André Leon Talley and Marina Schiano in New York.

PL Gould/Press Images/Getty Images

1990: Andre Leon Talley & Marc Jacobs at the Oscar de la Renta & Carolyn Roehm Spring <a class=Fashion Show on November 30 at The Plaza Hotel in New York, New York, United States.”/>

1990: Andre Leon Talley & Marc Jacobs at the Oscar de la Renta & Carolyn Roehm Spring Fashion Show on November 30 at The Plaza Hotel in New York, New York, United States.

Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Mid 1990s: Andre Leon Talley, left, and Kristen McMenamy, right, during New York <a class=Fashion Week, NY.”/>

Mid 1990s: Andre Leon Talley, left, and Kristen McMenamy, right, during New York Fashion Week, NY.

Catherine McGann/Getty Images

2006: André Leon Talley at Dana Buchman during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2006 at the 1441 Broadway Show Room in New York City.

2006: André Leon Talley at Dana Buchman during Olympus Fashion Week Fall 2006 at the 1441 Broadway Show Room in New York City.

Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage/Getty Images

2011: Andre Leon Talley and Anna Wintour attend the Donna Karan New York Fall 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on February 14 in New York City.

2011: Andre Leon Talley and Anna Wintour attend the Donna Karan New York Fall 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on February 14 in New York City.

Eugene Gologursky/WireImage/Getty Images

2011: Designer Norma Kamali, left, and editor Andre Leon Talley, right attend the Norma Kamali Spring 2012 Collection and NORMAKAMALI3D Launch at the David Rubenstein Atrium on September 14 in New York City.

2011: Designer Norma Kamali, left, and editor Andre Leon Talley, right attend the Norma Kamali Spring 2012 Collection and NORMAKAMALI3D Launch at the David Rubenstein Atrium on September 14 in New York City.

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Norma Kamali

2014: André Leon Talley attends the L'Wren Scott memorial service at St. Bartholomew's Church on May 2 in New York City.

2014: André Leon Talley attends the L’Wren Scott memorial service at St. Bartholomew’s Church on May 2 in New York City.

John Lamparski/Getty Images

Andre Leon Talley talks about "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: the art of the in-between" during "Sunday at the Met: Andrew Bolton and Andre Leon Talley" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 18, 2017 in New York City.

Andre Leon Talley speaks about “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between” during “Sunday At The Met: Andrew Bolton And Andre Leon Talley” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 18, 2017 in New York City.

Taylor Hill/Getty Images