André Leon Talley, the pioneering fashion icon who was the first Black person to become creative director at Vogue magazine, has died after battling an illness. He was 73.
The nature of the illness that caused Talley to be hospitalized in White Plains, a 30-mile drive north of New York, has not been disclosed, TMZ reports. Repeated calls to his camp have not yet been answered.
Talley proved to be extremely instrumental in furthering Vogue’s vision and prominence when he started his career at the world-famous magazine in 1983. He immediately demonstrated his genius for fashion and how it is inextricably intertwined with entertainment and sports. This facilitated his meteoric rise up the magazine’s hierarchy from news director, which he served from 1983 to ’87, to the creative director in ’88.
Talley was already an international personality when the venerated Anna Wintour made him her right-hand man until he left Vogue in 1995 and moved to Paris, where he returned to W Magazine.
Despite working for a competitor, Talley continued contributing to Vogue as an editor until he rejoined Vogue in 1998 full time as editor-at-large. He stayed in this role until he left for the second and last time in 2013.
Over his sublime career, Talley also wrote for Women’s Wear Daily, The New York Times, and Interview magazine. He advocated for more Black women to appear on America’s runways and he also did some styling for the Obamas during their tenure as America’s first couple.
In May 2020, he released a tell-all memoir about his life and career, titled The Chiffon Trenches, which chronicled his improbable rise from his grandmother’s home in Durham, North Carolina, to the forefront of the fashion world in the United States and internationally.
The book also famously revealed the circumstances that precipitated his last departure from Vogue and how his 30-year friendship with Wintour was irrevocably damaged.
“I think my relationship is in an iceberg with her,” Talley told Gayle King on “CBS Morning.” in 2020. “I hope that it will not be that forever.”
News of Talley’s death reverberated throughout the fashion and entertainment world, with renowned designer Diane von Fürstenberg mourning on Instagram: “Good bye darling André ❤️🙏… No one saw the world in a more glamorous way than you did ❤️🙏… no one was grander and more soulful than you were ❤️🙏…the world will be less joyfulI ❤️🙏 I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years…. I miss your loud screams …I love you soooo much ❤️🙏.”
Flip the page to take a look at Talley’s fantastic and historic career.