André Leon Talley, former editor at large for US Vogue, dies aged 73
André Leon Talley, the former editor at large of US Vogue and one of the world's most influential fashion journalists, has died at the age of 73, it has been confirmed.
Talley was a trailblazer in fashion and a champion of diversity across fashion from the catwalk to the design room and was known for his larger than life character and searingly honest critiques.
Most recently Talley made waves with his memoir The Chiffon Trenches, published in 2020, in which he spoke of his heartbreak of being dropped by US Vogue and its formidable editor in chief Anna Wintour in 2013. In his book Talley said Wintour was incapable of “simple human kindness”.
He joined the fashion industry in 1974 as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art working for the legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland. Impressed by his talents Vreeland introduced Talley to Andy Warhol's Factory and the legendary Interview magazine.
Talley went on to take up a role at trade bible Women's Wear Daily, followed by W magazine and the New York Times, But it was at Vogue where he made his name and arrived at the publication in 1983 as fashion news director, holding the role until 1987. After that he became creative director of the title until 1995.
He then moved to Paris to work for W but remained as a contributing editor and returned to the title in 1998 serving as editor at large until 2013.
A well-known figure in wider American culture, Talley advised former First Lady Michelle Obama on fashion encouraging her to champion diverse US-based designers, such as the Canadian-Taiwanese designer Jason Wu. He also acted as a judge on America's Next Top Model, made a cameo appearance in Sex & The City and was a prominent figure in Vogue documentary The September Issue among many other film and television appearances.
In an Instagram post, Anna Wintour, said of Talley's passing. "Goodbye dear Andre... nobody saw the world in a more elegant and glamorous way than you... no one was more moving and grandiose than you... the world will be less joyful now. I have loved you and laughed with you for years... I will miss your loud cries and loyal friendship, despite our differences lately, you were a fashion great. We will remember you fondly."
Talley was born in 1948 in Washington, the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C Talley, a taxi driver. He was, however, brought up mostly by his grandmother Binnie Francis Davis who worked as a cleaning lady but from whom, he says, he gained an "understanding of luxury". He grew up in the south of the US during the segregation era and said he found solace and a love for fashion via Vogue magazine which he used to read at the local library.
He went on to study French Literature at North Carolina University and won a scholarship to Brown University, achieving a masters degree in French Literature in 1972. It was the connections he made here that led him to The Met and to Vreeland, where his fashion journey began.
He died on 18 January in New York from an unknown illness.