Sad to report that iconic fashion journalist André Leon Talley has joined the ancestors, at the age of 73.
A source told TMZ that the former creative director and editor-in-chief of VOGUE Magazine passed away on Tuesday (Jan. 18) at a hospital in White Plains, NY. The reason for his hospitalization was not known at press time.
As one of the very few faces of color in the fashion industry, Talley was known for his eccentric style and his keen eye for what’s hot, and that helped to mold VOGUE into the powerhouse that it is today. Starting his career with the publication in 1983, he worked his way from news director to creative director and, ultimately, editor-in-chief. Talley left VOGUE full-time in 2013, but he would contribute to the publication in varying degrees in the years since.
Most importantly, Talley was a powerful voice for diversity in the industry, challenging designers to include more Black models in their shows, and rallying for more Black people to leave their mark in general. He was also a one-time fashion consultant for Former First Lady Michelle Obama, former judge on America’s Next Top Model, and had his own show on SiriusXM. Most recently, he released his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir, where he detailed his often-rocky relationship with VOGUE’s longtime editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. While everything wasn’t all rosy between the two, he does give her credit for giving him a chance. As he explained on CBS This Morning, “I owe to her the pioneering role that I had of a creative director of Vogue. I was the first Black man to ever be named such. I owe that to Anna Wintour. I owe her much. And I think, in turn, I think she owes me.”
Talley was also revered as an icon in the LGBTQ+ community for his courage to express himself in any way he saw fit, with no limitation or hesitation. In one of the rare instances where he did discuss his sexual orientation, he told Wendy Williams in 2018, “No, I’m not heterosexual … I’m fluid in my sexuality, darling.”
In all, he was a positive influence and a trailblazer in an industry where diverse creatives is still in the minority. In tribute, queer activist Preston Mitchum wrote on Twitter, “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.”