The fashion world is once again mourning one of its greatest heroes. Fashion icon, Andre’ Talley, the former longtime creative director for Vogue, has died at age 73, according to a statement on his official Instagram account.
Talley was a pioneer in the fashion industry, a Black man in a world mostly dominated by White men and women.
In 2017, at an event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Talley described the challenges of promoting diversity on the glossy pages of fashion magazines.
“I worked behind the scenes. I did it in dulcet tones, and I was persistent and tenacious…I always assumed a very quiet role. I didn’t scream and yell and shout…That was the best strategy, because that was the world I moved in. After all, it was Vogue, darling,” he shared on the Tamron Hall Show.
Talley was born in Washington DC but at only two months old, his parents brought him to Durham, North Carolina, where he was raised by his grandmother, Bennie Francis Davis, whom he called Mama.
Talley often described John F. Kennedy’s wife, Jackie Kennedy, as the “first influencer” of the modern world.
“I was obsessed with her pillbox hat, and her little snippet of fur at the collar, and her fur-edged boots, as well as the muff she carried to keep her hands warm during the freezing-cold January day,” Talley wrote.
In 1974, Talley arrived in New York and found himself loving the beautiful intersection of fashion and art, working and mingling with the who’s who of art and fashion including people like Halston, Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol.
After working in Paris with Women’s Wear Daily, Talley joined Vogue in 1983 as news director. He was promoted to creative director in 1988 and later served as editor-at-large. Except for a period with W magazine in Paris, he remained a fixture at Vogue for nearly four decades.
At 6-foot-6 and with a booming voice, Talley was a towering figure in every sense. He was often seen sitting in the front row of elite fashion shows alongside editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, and his influence over fashion continued long after his departure from Vogue in 2013.
“To my twelve-year-old self, raised in the segregated South, the idea of a Black man playing any kind of role in [the fashion] world seemed an impossibility,” he wrote. “To think of where I’ve come from, where we’ve come from, in my lifetime, and where we are today, is amazing.”
The magazine that propelled Talley’s stardom into the next level, Vouge, first acknowledged his death in an obituary published late Wednesday morning, which lauded Talley’s incredible career and included a tribute from fashion icon, Anna Wintour herself.
“The loss of André is felt by so many of us today: the designers he enthusiastically cheered on every season, and who loved him for it; the generations he inspired to work in the industry, seeing a figure who broke boundaries while never forgetting where he started from; those who knew fashion, and Vogue, simply because of him; and, not forgetting, the multitude of colleagues over the years who were consistently buoyed by every new discovery of André’s, which he would discuss loudly, and volubly—no one could make people more excited about the most seemingly insignificant fashion details than him.
Even his stream of colorful faxes and emails were a highly anticipated event, something we all looked forward to,” said Anna Wintour. “Yet it’s the loss of André as my colleague and friend that I think of now; it’s immeasurable. He was magnificent and erudite and wickedly funny—mercurial, too. Like many decades-long relationships, there were complicated moments, but all I want to remember today, all I care about, is the brilliant and compassionate man who was a generous and loving friend to me and to my family for many, many years, and who we will all miss so much.”
Talley appeared as a judge on “America’s Next Top Model” and was the subject of a documentary The Gospel According to André, which was