André Leon Talley, former longtime creative director of Vogue and a fashion icon in his own right, has died at the age of 73, according to a statement on his official Instagram account.
Talley was a pioneer in the fashion industry, a black man in an often insular world dominated by white men and women.
In 2017, at an event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Talley described the challenges of promoting diversity in 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 took a very easygoing role. I didn’t scream and cause. That was the best strategy, because that was the world I moved into. It was Vogue after all, honey,” he told host Tamron Hall.
Talley was born in Washington DC, but at two months old, his parents brought him to Durham, North Carolina, where he was raised by his grandmother, Bennie Francis Davis, whom he called Mom.
In his 2020 memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches,” he described his early joy of delving into books at the city library in Durham.
“My world became the glossy pages of Vogue, where I was able to read about Truman Capote’s legendary ball, held at the Plaza in honor of Katharine Graham,” he wrote.
A defining moment in her youth was the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and the presence of his glamorous wife Jackie Kennedy, describing her as the “first influencer” of the modern world.
“I was obsessed with her pillbox hat, and her little patch of fur on her collar, and her fur-edged boots, as well as the stuffy stuff she carried to keep her hands warm during the cold January day,” Talley wrote.
Talley arrived in New York in 1974, and quickly found himself at the frenetic intersection of fashion and art, working and mingling with the likes of Halston, Karl Lagerfeld and Andy Warhol.
After a stint in Paris with Women’s Wear Daily, Talley joined Vogue in 1983 as news director. He was promoted to creative director in 1988 and, except for a stint with W Magazine in Paris, remained featured in the magazine for nearly four decades, often seen sitting in the front row of elite fashion shows alongside editor Anne Wintour.
Talley also appeared as a judge on “America’s Next Top Model”, was the subject of a documentary “The Gospel According to André”, which was released in 2017 and awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in tribute to his contribution to the fashion industry.
On April 22, 2021, he described the French recognition as the “best day of my life” in an Instagram post.
“To be in the flawless body of Chevaliers in August: Diana Vreeland, Tina Turner, James Baldwin, Rudolph Nureyev and for a black man educated in public schools in Durham, North Carolina, thanks to my French teacher, the late Cynthia P. Smith , which involved me in French: the language, the culture, the style, the history and the literature”, he wrote.
Talley’s published work includes “ALT: A Memoir” as well as picture books including “Little Black Dress”, and “Oscar de la Renta, Your Legendary World of Style”.
He received his Masters in French Studies at Brown University and served on the board of trustees of the Savannah College of Art and Design for 20 years.
Last year, Talley touched on the significance of Vogue’s cover with poet Amanda Gorman for the black community and the fashion world, describing it as “a first for so many levels.”
“We continue to climb hills, hills of healing, hills of forgiveness and climb hills and mountains of overcoming all adversity, systemic racism and iniquity,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
*With information from CNN’s Chris Boyette and Oscar Holland
This content was originally created in English.
Reference: CNN Brasil