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Topline

Trailblazing fashion icon André Leon Talley died Tuesday aged 73, a statement on his official Instagram account confirmed, sparking an outpouring of tributes from celebrities and fashion industry figures celebrating the journalist’s life and career. 

Key Facts

Talley died in New York, his representatives at TAA PR confirmed in a statement, applauding the “indomitable” and “larger-than-life” figure who oversaw Vogue’s ascendance as “the world’s fashion bible.”

In a career spanning five decades, Talley—a rare Black man leading in an elitist field dominated by white men and women—championed diversity on the runway and in magazine pages, working with and befriending the likes of Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Diane von Furstenberg.

Talley—a towering figure at 6-foot-7—was a regular fixture in the front row of the prestigious fashion shows and, besides decades at Vogue, also worked at Women’s Wear Daily and Interview

Talley later appeared as a judge on reality show America’s Next Top Model, was artistic director of Zappos and advised rapper will.i.am’s start-up.  

The French government awarded Talley the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2021 in recognition of his contribution to fashion, an honor he described as “the best day in my life.”

Key Background

Talley was born in 1948 and raised in North Carolina during the Jim Crow era, later moving to New York in 1974. In New York, Talley worked his way up through the fashion industry and has advised and helped dress some of the world’s most recognizable figures, including Michelle Obama when she was first lady and supermodel Naomi Campbell. Over the years has authored a number of books, including his recent memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, which was a New York Times best seller. Talley’s famous and decades-long close relationship with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is documented in countless pictures of the duo together, however their relationship later soured, which Talley recounted in his book.

Tangent

Industry figures and celebrities have paid tribute to Talley. British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, the first Black person at the publication’s helm, said: “Without you, there would be no me. Thank you for paving the way.” Supermodel Milla Jovovich described him as a “force of nature,” Belgian designer Diane von Furstenberg said “no one was more soulful and grander” and costume designer Arianne Phillips described him as a “trailblazer” and “journalist with a singular voice.”

Further Reading

André Leon Talley, Editor and Fashion Industry Force, Dies at 73 (NYT)

Source: Forbes – Business

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