Hollywood stars and fashionistas remember ‘grand and soulful’ Andre Leon Talley

The former Vogue editor-at-large has died at the age of 73.

Mike Bedigan
Wednesday 19 January 2022 11:41
Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley has died in New York at the age of 73 (Evan Agostini/AP)
Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley has died in New York at the age of 73 (Evan Agostini/AP)

Hollywood stars and members of the fashion industry have remembered “grand and soulful” Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley for his “charm and wit and taste for the exceptional” following his death at 73.

The fashion trailblazer was a pioneer in magazines and on the front row of couture shows as a black man, and he became recognisable to those outside the industry for his role as a judge on reality show America’s Next Top Model.

The former Vogue creative director, who worked side by side with editor Anna Wintour for decades until a fracture in their relationship, died in New York on Tuesday.

During a career spanning five decades, he befriended big names in the fashion world, including Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Paloma Picasso, and was beloved by Hollywood’s A-list.

Actresses including Kerry Washington, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer paid tribute, with Scandal star Washington joking that the afterlife would be “just too fabulous” following Talley’s death.

“Oh Andre! Heaven is not ready for you darling!” she wrote on Instagram.

“The whole afterlife is going to be just too fabulous now. Ugh! You blessed us! Sir! You blessed us with your charm and wit and your taste for the exceptional.

“You will shine so brightly from the heavens that we will know what true stardom looks like.

“And we will gaze up at you always. In awe. And with gratitude. Rest In Peace.”

Oscar winner Davis wrote: “RIP Andre Leon Talley. Rest well King”, while Spencer tweeted: “I am sad to hear of Andre Leon Talley’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.”

Actress and supermodel Milla Jovovich lamented the loss of a “force of nature” in her tribute and said she felt “lucky” to have encountered him multiple times in her career.

“Andre Leon Talley was such an incredible artist, but he was also one of the most genuinely wonderful humans I’ve ever met,” she said.

“Always there with the most beautiful smile and open arms, he was so sweet and kind, always so gracious and I imagine the term ‘fierce’ was coined after meeting him.

“I feel so lucky to have been embraced in his warm glow so many times in my career, because good people are few and far between in this business and you’re much more likely to meet a scowl when going places than his ever present, all encompassing loveliness.

“I send you so much love Andre. It was an honor and a privilege”.

Designers, models and other members of the fashion industry paid tribute to Talley, while Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue credited him with forging a path.

He wrote on Instagram: “R.I.P dearest Andre. Without you, there would be no me. Thank you for paving the way.”

Sharing a vintage photo of the pair on Instagram, US designer Marc Jacobs said he was “in shock” following the news.

“You championed me and you have been my friend since my beginning,” he said.

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“Our chats, the moments we shared … oh my friend. You and your passions were larger than life. I love you and I will miss you dear Andre.

“Rest In Peace.”

Belgian designer Diane von Furstenberg said no-one was “grander and more soulful”.

Sharing a picture of him, she wrote: “Good bye darling Andre.

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“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 joyful. I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years… I miss your loud screams … I love you soooo much.”

Talley’s representatives, TAA PR, confirmed his death on Tuesday in a statement.

“It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our dear friend and client, the indomitable Andre Leon Talley on January 18, 2022 in New York,” the company said.

“Mr Talley was the larger-than-life, long time creative director at Vogue during its rise to dominance as the world’s fashion bible.

“Over the past five decades as an international icon (he) was a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers.”

Talley was hired by Wintour at Vogue in 1983, and in 1998 was appointed the magazine’s creative director.

Andre Leon Talley with Anna Wintour at the presentation of the Oscar de la Renta autumn 2007 collection during New Yrok Fashion Week (Diane Bondareff/AP)

He left the magazine in 1995 for a stint at fashion publication W before returning to Vogue as editor-at-large until 2013.

In 2020 he released his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, which shared details about his complex relationship with Wintour.

Talley was also a larger-than-life personality on screen and in 2018 he appeared in documentary The Gospel According To Andre, directed by Kate Novack.

He also played himself in shows such as Sex And The City and Empire, and was a judge alongside Tyra Banks on modelling competition show America’s Next Top Model.

During his tenure at Conde Nast, he was the force behind numerous notable shoots and interviews, including one with former US first lady Michelle Obama, and is credited with helping to elevate a number of black models.

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