The industry remembers him as a larger-than-life editor, confidant, and mentor.
Words by Chelsey Sanchez
André Leon Talley, the larger-than-life fashion editor who carved out a space for himself as a Black pioneer in an industry notoriously dominated by white elitism, is dead at 73, according to a statement posted to his Instagram account yesterday.
Raised by his grandmother, Talley grew up in North Carolina during the Jim Crow era. There, fashion loomed large in his mind, even from a young age. In his 2020 memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, he recalls witnessing the glamor of First Lady Jackie Kennedy during John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration: “I was obsessed with her pillbox hat, and her little snippet of fur at the collar, and her fur-edged boots, as well as the muff she carried to keep her hands warm during the freezing-cold January day.”
Following his academic pursuits in French literature at the North Carolina Central University and Brown University, Talley went on to apprentice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, working under the iconic Harper’s BAZAAR editor Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. Through Vreeland, “I learned to speak the language of style, fantasy, and literature,” he wrote in The Chiffon Trenches.
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This article originally appeared on harpersbazaar.com