Skip to main content

Fashion World Loses Crown Jewel With André Leon Talley’s Death

André Leon Talley was a big man with an even bigger bearing. Six-foot-six, Talley often arrived adorned in splendid capes and caftans, sail-sized coats, and dinner plate-diameter sunglasses. A style icon who couldn’t be missed, the style world already feels the absence of his larger-than-life presence.

On January 18, the legendary fashion editor died suddenly and unexpectedly of a reported heart attack. He was 73.

André Leon Talley at the 2018 New York City premiere of his documentary, 'The Gospel According to André.'
Matthew Dornquast/Wikimedia

Talley served as an editorial star for the world’s largest fashion magazines since 1975. This included stints with Andy Warhol at Interview, Women’s Wear Daily, W, Ebony, and The New York Times before landing at Vogue until 2013. As an icon, Talley spent his later career advocating for diversity in fashion, describing the psychic toll of appearing as the lone Black person on mastheads in his best-selling 2020 book, The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir. Over six decades, Talley was quite literally larger than life and lived in the fashion world on a grand scale.

“Friendship with him meant being part of his erudite, gilded, and fiercely self-created existence; of being in the orbit of someone who had the incredible gift, one amplified by his immense charm, of always being able to joyfully turn the volume of life up — way, way up,” Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour wrote about her friends and Vogue peer for 40 years.

Tally’s maternal grandmother, Binnie Francis Davis, raised the future fashion icon in her Durham, North Carolina home in the segregated Jim Crow South. In 2018, on NPR’s Fresh Air, Talle told host Terry Gross that he often felt like a misfit and was bullied for his stylish clothing. Around nine or 10-years-old, he found an issue of Vogue at the public library. Caught by the hand of fate, the young man was captivated, cascading down the “rabbit hole” into “a world of glamour,” he said.

“(Vogue) was my gateway to the world outside of Durham,” Talley said to Gross. “It was the world of literature, what was happening in the world of art, what was happening in the world of entertainment.”

Related Guides

Talley went on to study French literature at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. With the connections he gained there, the young man earned an unpaid apprenticeship for then Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974. Impressed by his skills, Vreeland connected Talley with Andy Warhol’s Factory and Interview magazine. This led to several fashion magazine stints that led to his arrival at Vogue in 1983. Talley would serve as the magazine’s fashion news director from 1983 to 1987, the magazine’s first African-American male creative director from 1988 to 1995, and its editor-at-large from 1998 to 2013. As a six-foot, six-inch gay Black man, this was a conspicuous and challenging position at first, but Talley handled it with grace and aplomb.

David Shankbone/Wikipedia

“I just rose to the occasion,” he said on Fresh Air in 2018. “I stood up straight and tall — like a tall, tall sunflower — and I just radiated the light and the beauty of my mind in relationship to the world of fashion.”

The 2000s were when Talley rose even higher, elevating from influencer to icon. In 2003, he authored an autobiography entitled A.L.T.: A Memoir in which the editor described how the fashion world shaped his humanity.

“Style transcends race, class, and time,” Talley wrote.

In 2008, Talley became the Obama family’s fashion advisor, eventually styling Michelle Obama for her first Vogue cover. From March 2010 to December 2011, Talley served as a judge and panelist on America’s Next Top Model. And in 2016, Talley served as the subject of the documentary, The Gospel According to André — directed by Kate Novack, screened in September 2016 at the Toronto Film Festival and was released in the U.S. on May 25, 2018.

“He’s the Nelson Mandela of couture. The Kofi Annan of what you got on,” a peer says in the film’s preview.

The Gospel According To Andre - Official Trailer

Talley would eventually use his massive platform to advocate for diversity in the fashion world and mentor several designers and models of color, including Naomi Campbell.

“He was very involved in fighting for more diversity on the runway, for more Black models,” New York Fashion Week creator Fern Mallis said to CBS NYC. “Mostly on the runway, and then that became a movement about every aspect of the industry.”

The man seemingly left every life that he touched more positive for its brush. Today, there is a huge hole in haute couture with Talley’s death, yet his robes and gowns will continue to flow through the styles that the large man sewed over six decades of monumental impact.

Read More: Off White and Louis Vuitton Fashion Visionary Virgil Abloh Passes at 41

Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
This highly-rated Under Armour unisex athletic backpack is $14 off for Prime Day
Under Armour Hustle 5 unisex backpack Prime Day deal

Backpacks can be hit or miss. Some of them are super durable, but whether or not they'll fit all the gear you need is up in the air. The best backpacks are pricier, which makes sense. You tend to get what you pay for. If you're in the market for a solid backpack, Under Armour is offering an excellent discount on the Unisex Hustle 5.0 Backpack for Prime Day this year. Usually $55, you can get the pack for $41, saving you $14, and there are a ton of color options available. You should know, however, that this is a limited-time deal, and we have no idea how long it will stick around. We recommend shopping now if you're interested so you don't miss out.

Here's why you should consider getting the Under Armour Hustle 5.0 Backpack now
Prime Day officially starts July 16 and runs through July 17, so understandably, most people are probably waiting until the official event to do their shopping. If that's you, we get it. However, in recent years, the deals available on Prime Day haven't been much better than the early stuff floating around. Also, a variety of retailers are now involved, so it often pays to look outside of Amazon for deals. In this case, the Under Armour Hustle is available as part of a limited-time deal, and there's no countdown, so we don't know when it will end. It could be gone before you know it or even sell out.

Read more
Adidas Prime Day sale: Running shoes, clothing, and more, from $49
man wearing Adidas Superstar sneakers in blue

Prime Day has officially started, and it's the perfect time to snag some new Adidas shoes. There is a surprisingly large selection of running shoe deals from Adidas, as well as a few different types, which is why we've gone out and collected some of our favorites for you below. Also, be sure to check back regularly as we update this article with new and better deals as Prime Day progresses.
The best Adidas Prime Day deal
Adidas Duramo SL Running Shoes -- $49, was $65

If you want comfortable running shoes that will help unlock your potential, check out the Adidas Duramo SL. With a mesh upper and a soft neoprene heel, you'll enjoy amazing support while you're out for a run while making sure that your comfort isn't compromised. When you're ready to build up speed, the running shoes' Lightmotion midsole will help you accelerate efficiently so that you can try beating your top speed. The Adidas Duramo SL also features the brand's trademark simplistic design with three stripes, so everyone will know that Adidas is your weapon of choice for your running sessions.

Read more
Best Carhartt Prime Day deals: Jackets, shirts, work gloves, more
Man working in Carhartt jacket

Gear from Carhartt is pretty great, whether we're talking about clothing or work gloves and duffel bags, and if you're considering grabbing something from the brand, then you'll probably want to avoid the high prices and grab a deal. Of course, Prime Day is officially over, but there are still quite a few deals that you can grab from Amazon on Carhartt products, so it's not a total loss if you missed out on the actual Prime Day deals. To that end, we've collected some of our favorite Carhartt deals below in both clothing and gear categories, so be sure to check both out.
Best Carhartt clothing Prime Day deals

If you shop Carhartt clothing Prime Day deals, you'll be getting apparel that are functional and flexible so that you won't have any trouble working in them. Whether you want a Carhartt jacket, pants, shirt, or any other type of clothing, you should get it from Carhartt if you want versatile pieces that you can wear when hanging out with your friends or while carrying out tasks outdoors. These offers aren't going to last long though, so proceed with the transaction immediately if something catches your eye.

Read more