André Leon Talley, the fashion icon who was once Vogue’s creative director and later its editor-at-large in the U.S. has died. The news was first reported by TMZ and later confirmed via a statement posted to the official Met Gala Twitter page. Talley was 73.
“Fashion lost another giant today,” read the Met Gala statement. “André Leon Talley, thank you for your groundbreaking work that has inspired so many of us. Your legacy will live on forever. RIP.”
Vogue and the Met Gala have a decades-long relationship, with the magazine’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour a chairwoman of the event since 1995 (excluding 1996 and 1998). She oversees both the benefit committee and the event’s guest list, with Vogue staffers helping assemble the list of invitees.
Talley was Vogue’s fashion news director from 1983 to 1987 and then its creative director from 1988 to 1995. He later served on the judging panel for America’s Next Top Model, appeared on Empire and in the first big-screen incarnation of Sex and the City. He was also featured in the Vogue-centric The September Issue and a number of other documentaries including The Gospel According to André, The First Monday in May and Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards.
The fashion icon was born on October 16, 1948, in Washington, D.C. He said he learned from his grandmother an “understanding of luxury” which was foundational to his sense of style. He first discovered Vogue magazine at the age of 10.
Talley earned a master’s degree in French Literature from Brown. In 1974, he apprenticed for then-Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland at the Met. She recommended Talley for a job at Interview magazine which led him to Women’s Wear Daily, where he became its Paris bureau chief from 1975 through 1980. He also worked for The New York Times before finally landing at Vogue.
He was Vogue‘s Fashion News Director from 1983 to 1987 and Creative Director from 1988 to 1995. Talley left Vogue in 1995 for a stint at W before returning to Vogue as editor-at-large until 2013.
Talley had an outsized influence in the fashion world, advising the Obama family on fashion, including introducing Michelle Obama to the designer of her inaugural gown.
France honored him last year with the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He told WWD that finding out about the French honor was “the best day of my life.”
Out magazine named Talley one of its “50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America” in 2007.
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