Another legend has joined the ancestors.
As announced in an official statement on his Instagram account, fashion icon and former Editor-at-Large of Vogue, André Leon Talley has passed away at the age of 73.
Born on October 16, 1948 in Washington, D.C., Talley later moved to Durham, North Carolina where he was raised by his grandmother. His interest in fashion started at an early age as he told The Guardian in 2020, that “every Sunday I would walk across the railroad tracks into the affluent part of Durham and buy Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and go back to my grandmother’s house, read my magazines. I was allowed to retreat from the bullying and the sexual abuse into a beautiful world.”
Talley obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature from North Carolina Central University and then earned a scholarship to Brown University, where he graduated with his Masters in the aforementioned subject.
It was after college that Talley received the opportunity to intern for former Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland. “My grandmother and Mrs. Vreeland were so different in their lives but so similar,” Talley said in a 2018 documentary film about his life, The Gospel According to André. “They both believed in the strong values of work, family and tradition, and I learned very early on from my grandmother. I had chores and duties to do. And I did them with great glee because they were a part of my life.”
Talley went on to become a trailblazer, in every sense of the word. After first joining Vogue in 1983, he later made history by becoming the magazine’s first African-American man to hold the title of creative director. He held that position from 1987 to 1995 and returned to W Magazine, a publication that Talley worked for earlier in his career. By 1998, he rejoined Vogue full-time as the editor-at-large and remained in the role until 2013.
His pioneering career in the fashion industry includes contributing to Women’s Wear Daily, The New York Times and Interview Magazine. May we all continue to remember and honor the powerful legacy of one of the most influential fashion journalists.
Rest in power, Mr. Talley and thank you for paving the way.
Photo Courtesy of Fairchild Archive/Penske Media