Farewell to a fashion giant André Leon Talley
By Keoputhy Bunny, News Editor
André Leon Talley, former creative director of Vogue, has been announced dead at age 73 from a heart attack on Jan.18. He had an illustrious career, ranging from being the Paris bureau chief for Women’s Wear Daily to Vogue’s fashion news director and creative director, to stylist for former US President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
After an Instagram post from his representatives confirmed his passing, an outpouring of grief erupted from the fashion world.
“I am in shock. You championed me and you have been my friend since my beginning. Your passions were larger than life. I love you and I will miss you dear Andre,” Marc Jacobs wrote on his Instagram account.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell also expressed her heartbreak at the passing of her late friend.
“Words cannot describe what it feels like knowing you are no longer with us in the physical form, like everyone who loves you, my heart skipped a beat,” she said.
Talley’s impact on the fashion world was doubly impressive considering how white the fashion industry was at the time he was starting to gain popularity.
Nicole Phelps, director of Global Vogue Runway, wrote in a posthumous article about him on Vogue, “He was the first Black man to hold his position at Vogue, and oftentimes he was the only Black person in the front row at fashion shows.”
Talley recounted in his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, about his journey from his grandma’s home in Durham, North Carolina to front row seats at fashion shows in New York. His memoir also touched on the discrimination and racism he experienced throughout his life.
When asked in a phone interview with Time magazine about why it was important to show both sides of the industry, Talley said, “It’s simply a part of the fabric of society in America. Racism is always there, boiling on the front burners.”
He was often hailed as part of a pantheon of individuals who gave and opened space for Black individuals to join the fashion industry.
Talley was also very spiritual and often looked to God for answers. He told W magazine, “It’s the whole institution of the church – the Black church – that is a very important aspect of my life, and able to sustain my life.”
This spirituality was also followed by Talley’s friend Kerry Washington. Her Instagram post said, “You will shine so brightly from the heavens that we will know what true stardom looks like. And we will gaze up at you always.”