André Leon Talley, avant-garde fashion journalist, ex-creative director of Vogue, dies at 73

Pioneering fashion journalist André Leon Talley died in New York on Tuesday at the age of 73.

His death was confirmed on his Instagram account. The cause of death was not provided.

A former creative director and editor-in-chief of Vogue, Talley shaped fashion and trends for decades, but was never afraid to break the rules.

Talley was born in Washington, DC, and raised in Durham, North Carolina by his grandmother, Bennie Frances Davis, who he says had a flair for fashion and influenced his attraction to the industry.

He said he ventured to Durham Library as a child and discovered Vogue, beginning his relationship with the publication as a dedicated reader.

Talley attended Central University in North Carolina before earning a master’s degree in French studies from Brown University in the early 1970s.

Working as an assistant for Andy Warhol put Talley in a powerful position for the worlds of art and culture. During this decade, he became Paris bureau chief for Women’s Wear Daily and contributed fashion coverage to The New York Times. In 1983 he went to work for Vogue as fashion information director and later as creative director.

He left Vogue in the 1990s, returned as editor and left permanently in 2013 to chase an opportunity to run Number Russia, a style publication, but left after a year. When Barack Obama ascended to the White House, Talley was asked to advise the first family on fashion.

Over the next few years, he appeared on the hit reality show “America’s Next Top Model” as the judge, the ultimate arbiter, which was his calling.

Talley’s gaze was intense and intimidating, her 6ft 6in frame a glimpse of the mind and intellect behind her fashion critique.

Her idea of ​​influential fashion was to break the rules, but only if you knew the rules.

In 2017, Talley addressed the men’s romper trend — the cropped version of the jumpsuit — telling St. Louis Magazine, “The romper trend isn’t something universal. I don’t see Kanye West going out in a romper, or Drake, Justin Bieber. Certainly not Leonardo DiCaprio. James Corden could pull off a romper.

Talley’s influence has extended beyond the catwalks and glossy pages: he appeared in the big-screen version of “Sex and the City” in 2008, in the Vogue documentary “The September Issue” and in “Valentino: The Last Emperor”, a documentary about the creator. . He was also the subject of the 2018 documentary, “The Gospel According to Andrew”.

“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,” said the social media post reporting his death.

His 11-bedroom colonial in White Plains, New York, which was the subject of a legal dispute this year over who owns property and residence rights, seemed to suggest Talley’s sense of style, comfortable but grand. It included the couch in author Truman Capote’s United Nations Plaza apartment.

He said growing up, Vogue’s description of Capote’s black-and-white prom, a supreme party of society, as a refined world where ‘bad things never happened’ sparked desire and imagination. , wrote The New York Times in its review of his 2020 memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches.”

Talley’s memoir was noted for her tumultuous relationship with another Vogue fashion deity, Anna Wintour. But it also brought a new understanding of her own childhood and her attraction to fashion shows – and how race in America was key to her fabric.

His voice was beyond sharp. He used it to encourage inclusion in an industry that has its racial archetypes. He was a constant voice of encouragement for the under-recognized overachievement of black culture, especially in the realm of style.

Rihanna. Janelle Monae. Kerry Washington. Lupita Nyong’o. When they walked to the Met Gala, what he called the Super Bowl of fashion, he cheered them on like a proud parent. “How beautiful your dress is,” he told Washington.

His sense of propriety and fashionable pageantry dates back to when he went to church with his grandmother. He often made the distinction that it was not just a church, but a black church.

“In the Black South, the culture of the church was almost like high school,” Talley told Garden & Gun in 2018.

He told the magazine that one of his proudest moments was when Edward Enninful became the first black man to run British Vogue and he told Talley, “You paved the way.”

Information about Talley’s survivors and services was not immediately available Tuesday evening.