|Was||Journalist Autobiographer Fashion editor Editor|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Fashion Journalism Literature|
|Birth||16 October 1948, Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, USA|
|Death||18 January 2022, White Plains, Westchester County, New York, USA (aged 73 years)|
André Leon Talley (October 16, 1948 – January 18, 2022) was an American fashion journalist, stylist, creative director, and editor-at-large of Vogue magazine. He was the magazine's fashion news director from 1983 to 1987, and then its first African-American male creative director from 1988 to 1995. Often regarded as a fashion icon, he was known for advocating for diversity in the fashion industry. Talley also served on the judging panel for America's Next Top Model (from Cycle 14 to Cycle 17).
He also authored three books, including the memoir The Chiffon Trenches, which landed on The New York Times Best Seller list; and co-authored a book with Richard Bernstein. Talley also worked as a stylist for former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2021, France awarded him the Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres honor for arts and letters.
Early life and education
Talley was born on October 16, 1948, in Washington, D.C., the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C. Talley, a taxi driver. At least one of his grandfathers was a sharecropper. His parents left him with his maternal grandmother, Binnie Francis Davis, who worked as a cleaning lady at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. She raised him, with Talley saying he was given from her an "understanding of luxury," and of whom he said following her death, "I miss her almost everyday."
He grew up in the Jim Crow era South, where segregation defined social boundaries. He said, "For a long time my grandmother would not allow white people to come into our house. That was her rule. The only white man who ever came into the house was the coroner." His love for fashion was cultivated at an early age by her and his discovery of Vogue magazine, which he first found in the local library at the age of nine or ten.
Talley was educated at Hillside High School, graduating in 1966, and North Carolina Central University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French Literature in 1970. He won a scholarship to Brown University, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in French Literature in 1972. At Brown, he wrote a thesis on the influence of black women on Charles Baudelaire and initially planned to teach French.
Through the student connections he made in Providence, Rhode Island, he apprenticed, unpaid, for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974. So impressed by his skills, the Vogue editor connected Talley up with a job at Andy Warhol's Factory and Interview magazine for $50 a week. He went on to work at Women’s Wear Daily, becoming its Paris bureau chief, and W, from 1975 through 1980. He also worked for The New York Times and other publications before finally landing at Vogue, where he worked as the Fashion News Director from 1983 to 1987 and then as Creative Director from 1988 to 1995. He pushed top designers to have more African-American models in their shows. In 1984 he co-wrote with Richard Bernstein the book MegaStar, with an introduction by Paloma Picasso, which includes portraits of celebrities. He left Vogue and moved to Paris in 1995 to work for W, and served as contributing editor at Vogue. In 1998, he returned to Vogue as the editor-at-large until his departure in 2013 to pursue another editorial venture.
In 2003, he published an autobiography entitled A.L.T.: A Memoir, published by Villard in 2003. According to Publishers Weekly, the message delivered by the book is that "Style transcends race, class, and time." Two years later he authored A.L.T. 365+, an art monograph designed by art director Sam Shahid. 365 features photos and captions from one year of Talley's life.
In 2008, Talley advised the Obama family on fashion, introducing Michelle Obama to the Taiwanese-Canadian designer Jason Wu, from whom she bought several dresses, including her inaugural gown. Talley's famous recent pairings have been with designers Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and singer-actress Jennifer Hudson.
From March 2010 to December 2011, Talley served on the judging panel for America's Next Top Model (from Cycle 14 to Cycle 17). From 2013 to 2014, he served as international editor of Numéro Russia, joining the team shortly after the magazine launched in March 2013 but resigned after 12 issues. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Savannah College of Art and Design since 1995.
In January 2017, he live-blogged the Trump inauguration with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. In April of that year, Talley began hosting his own radio show principally concerned with fashion and pop culture on Sirius XM satellite station Radio Andy.
Talley is the subject of a documentary film, The Gospel According to André, directed by Kate Novack, which was screened in September 2016 at the Toronto Film Festival and was released in the US on May 25, 2018. Reviewing the film, Variety said: "The documentary is a deeply loving, frequently beautiful testament to the former Vogue editor, who rose from humble beginnings in North Carolina to become arguably the high fashion world’s first major African-American tastemaker, as well as the type of multi-lingual, Russian-lit-citing public intellectual who is perfectly at ease gossiping on TV with Wendy Williams." It was available on Disney's Hulu in 2020.
He released The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir on May 19, 2020. In it, he discusses getting his start in New York City in the 1970s, his tumultuous relationship with Wintour, and his experiences with racism in the fashion world. It became a New York Times Best Seller.
In the mid-2000s, Anna Wintour initiated an intervention to get Talley to lose weight. As seen on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he eventually lost a great deal of weight, and was eating more healthy. He continued again at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in the late 2010s.
In 2007, Talley was ranked 45th in Out magazine's "50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America".
During his May 29, 2018 appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, when asked about his sexual orientation, Talley stated, "No, I'm not heterosexual; I'm saying I'm fluid in my sexuality, darling."
Talley died at a hospital in White Plains, New York on January 18, 2022, at the age of 73.
- With Richard Bernstein, MegaStar, with an introduction by Paloma Picasso, Indigo Books, 1984, ISBN 978-0-394-62305-4
- A.L.T.: A Memoir, Villard, 2003, ISBN 0-375-50828-7
- A.L.T. 365+, designed by Sam Shahid, powerHouse Books, 2005, ISBN 1-57687-240-8
- The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir, Ballantine, 2020, ISBN 9780593129258
|2008||Sex and the City||Himself||Film role (cameo)|
|2008||Valentino: The Last Emperor||Himself||Film role (cameo)|
|2006||"Say Somethin'"||Himself||Mariah Carey's music video (cameo)|
|2009||The September Issue||Himself||Documentary|
|2015||Empire||Himself||Television role (episode: "The Devils Are Here") (cameo)|
|2016||The First Monday in May||Himself||Documentary|
|2017||Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards||Himself||Documentary|
|2018||The Gospel According to André||Himself||Documentary|
- 2003: Eugenia Sheppard Award for Fashion Journalism, Council of Fashion Designers of America
- 2008: Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Savannah College of Art and Design
- 2011: The André Leon Talley Gallery opened in the SCAD Museum of Art
- 2021: Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres honor for arts and letters