Fashion Icon André Leon Talley Dead After Battle with Unknown Illness

André Leon Talley (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

*Fashion legend and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley has died at age 73.

According to reports, Talley had been in the hospital battling an unknown illness, prior to his death on Tuesday, TMZ reported.

His death was announced on his official Instagram page in a lengthy message that states: “It is with great sadness we announce the passing of André Leon Talley on January 18, 2022 in New York. Mr. Talley was the larger-than-life, longtime creative director at Vogue during its rise to dominance as the world’s fashion bible.”

Read the full statement below

The fashion world is reacting to news Talley’s death on social media, with designer Diane von Fürstenberg writing 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 ❤️🙏.”

Talley is best known for serving as editor-at-large at Vogue. In 2017, he described the challenges of promoting diversity in fashion magazines geared for white women. 

“I worked behind the scenes. I did it in dulcet tones, and I was persistent and tenacious….I always assumed a very quiet role. I didn’t scream and yell and shout….That was the best strategy, because that was the world I moved in. After all, it was Vogue, darling,” he told Tamron Hall.

During their conversation on her talk show, Tamron asked Talley about his 2020 memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches, and whether the intention of the book “was to set the record straight that your career was not made by Anna Wintour? …Some people say you went after her. Why?” the host asked. 

Talley responded, “I didn’t go after Anna Wintour. This is in ways a lot better to Anna Wintour. It is my respect out of our kinship and our thirty years of friendship. Of course there were things that happened to me later, in the last two or three years, that I felt were very not correct, but in many ways I owe to her my world of Vogue, I owe to her many, many important segments of my life. But first of all, let me say, Anna Wintour did not make me, I made myself…I became André Leon Talley from my childhood, growing up in my grandmother’s home, growing up in the church, in the black Missionary Baptist Church.”

In his book, Talley writes, ‘None of my contemporaries have seen the world through black eyes.’ Tamron asked Talley if he was referring to his contemporaries at Vogue. Talley answered, “I meant that the Vogue institution as – the moment of blackness was, as I represented it, I was certainly included in conversations – there were conversations about diversity in the photos and articles. But Vogue respected the idea of diversity, all aspects and rainbows and reputation. But at the same time, they do not see the world through my eyes, through my environment, how my childhood upbringing affected my references and my points of view in my life.”

In his 2020 memoir, Talley wrote about being raised by his grandmother in segregated Durham, North Carolina, where he immersed himself in books at the city library. “My world became the glossy pages of Vogue, where I could read about Truman Capote’s legendary ball, given at the Plaza, in honor of Katharine Graham,” he wrote.

Talley, a major figure in the LGBTQ+ community, told NPR that his presence confounded people. 

“I was smart, and I showed it,” he said. “It goes back to when people can’t figure out who you are and are afraid of you — and as you boldly, with confidence, show who you are to the world, certain people just have the fear of seeing someone tall and Black suddenly come on the surface.”

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