Fashion icon and creative legend André Leon Talley has died at the age of 73, at a hospital in White Plains, New York. His cause of death has not yet been revealed.
His Instagram account confirmed the sad news with a post that read,
“It is with great sadness we announce the passing of André Leon Talley on January 18, 2022 in New York. Mr Talley was the larger-than-life, longtime creative director at Vogue during its rise to dominance as the world’s fashion bible.”
Talley was a prominent and beloved figure on the international fashion scene, having worked at Vogue — first heading up the news division from 1983 to 1987 before then stepping into the role of creative director in 1988, and then into the role of editor-at-large.
“Over the past five decades as an international icon was a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers,” the Instagram post eulogised. “His byline appeared in Vanity Fair, HG, Interview, Ebony and Women’s Wear Daily and he was the editor of Numero Russia.”
In addition to his revered work with Vogue and other fashion publications, Talley also appeared on the reality competition America’s Next Top Model as a judge for four seasons and also made a cameo in Empire and the first Sex and the City film in a scene where Carrie models various wedding dresses for the magazine. He was also the subject of the 2016 documentary The Gospel According to André and featured heavily in The September Issue, a documentary about the Met Gala.
In March of 2021, Talley posted a message on his Twitter account, referencing his appreciation for the love and concern he had received from his fans and followers.
“I cannot thank you all enough for your outpouring of love and concern. I am healthy in mind and spirit and am quite grateful for the many messages from dear friends and extended community.
“As you probably know from The Chiffon Trenches, I’ve experienced many peaks and valleys in my life and remain quite resilient. The matter we are dealing with is unfortunate, but will be handled by my very capable legal team at this time.”
The posts referred to an ongoing issue Talley was having at the time, as he was facing eviction from his home. The property was allegedly owned by the former CEO of Manolo Blahnik, George Malkemus, who along with his partner Anthony Yurgaitis, claimed they owned the property Talley had been renting since 2004.
Talley also published two memoirs — A.L.T.: A Memoir in 2003, and The Chiffon Trenches in 2020, the latter of which documented his tumultuous relationships with the late Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.
“I have huge emotional and psychological scars from my relationship with this towering and influential woman,” he wrote in the memoir, of Wintour. “Simple human kindness. No, she is not capable.”
He also wrote that he hoped “that she will find a way to apologise before I die… Not a day goes by when I do not think of Anna Wintour.”
His other books included Valentino, A.L.T. 365+ and Little Black Dress for Assouline. He also contributed to Valentino: At the Emperor’s Table and Cartier Panthère.
For his work in fashion, Talley, who had a Master of Arts degree in French Literature, was honoured with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in April 2021, an award for those who have significantly contributed to French culture.
Considered one of the first mainstream African-American tastemakers in the U.S., Talley advised Barack and Michelle Obama on their style in 2008, first introducing Michelle Obama to the designer of her inaugural gown, Jason Wu. He also used his vast influence to advocate for more Black models to be featured both on runways and in magazine shoots.
Noting Talley’s status as an LGBTQIA icon, Preston Mitchum, a Black civil rights advocate and director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, Tweeted: “André Leon Talley made it possible for so many Black queer boys and men to express ourselves out loud. No reservations. A legend. An icon. May he rest in peace and power knowing that he paved the way for many people who looked up to him.”
André Leon Talley made it possible for so many Black queer boys and men to express ourselves out loud. No reservations.
A legend. An icon.
May he rest in peace and power knowing that he paved the way for many people who looked up to him. ♥️🥺
— Preston Mitchum, he/him (@PrestonMitchum) January 19, 2022