Influential fashion journalist André Leon Talley dies at 73

NEW YORK (AP) — André Leon Talley, the former creative director and editor of Vogue magazine, has died. He was 73 years old.

Talley’s literary agent, David Vigliano, confirmed Talley’s death to USA Today on Tuesday evening, but no additional details were immediately available.

Talley was an influential fashion journalist who worked for Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue and was a regular on fashion shows in New York and Europe. At 6ft 6in tall, Talley cut a commanding figure wherever he went, with his stature, considerable influence in the fashion world and bold looks.

In a 2013 Vanity Fair spread titled “The Eyeful Tower”, Talley was described as “perhaps the industry’s most important link to the past”. Designer Tom Ford told the magazine that Talley was “one of the last great fashion editors who has an incredible sense of fashion history. … He can see through everything you do to the original reference, predict what was on your inspiration board.

Designer Diane von Furstenberg praised Talley on Instagram, writing, “no one saw the world more glamorously than you…no one was grander and more moving than you.”

In her 2003 memoir, “ALT: A Memoir,” Talley focused on two of the most important women in her life: her maternal grandmother, Bennie Frances Davis, and the late fashion editor Diana Vreeland.

“Bennie Frances Davis may have looked like a typical African-American housekeeper to many people who saw her on an ordinary day, but I, who could see her soul, could also see her secret: that even though she wore a net hair and work clothes to scrub the toilets and floors, she wore an invisible tiara, ”he wrote.

Her relationship with Vogue began at Duke University, where her grandmother cleaned the dorms; Talley would travel to campus as a youth to read the magazine.

Talley was also a familiar figure to viewers, serving as a judge on “America’s Top Model” and appearing on “Sex and the City” and “Empire.”

Raised in Durham, North Carolina, Talley held various jobs before arriving in New York in the 1970s, soon meeting Vreeland and forming a friendship that lasted until her death in 1989.

Talley worked as a ranger in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, where he told visitors about the slaves who built Fort Washington and dressed up as Civil War soldiers, he told The Associated Press in 2003.

After stints with Interview magazine and Women’s Wear Daily, Talley was hired at Vogue in 1983 by editor Anna Wintour and was named creative director in 1988.

Talley released another memoir in 2020, “The Chiffon Trenches,” which included behind-the-scenes stories about Wintour and other fashion personalities like the late designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Of all the elements of a person’s clothing, Talley considered shoes to be the most important.

“You can tell everything about a person by what they put on their feet,” Talley told the AP.

“If it’s a man and you can see the reflection of his face on the top of his black shoes, that means they’ve been polished to perfection. … If it’s a woman and she wears shoes that hurt… well, shoes that hurt are very fashionable!

Talley’s death was first reported by celebrity website TMZ.