Anne Azzi Davenport
Anne Azzi Davenport
Leave your feedback
André Leon Talley, the towering former creative director and editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, has died. He had a front row seat to fashion shows around the world, and provided his readers a lens into that world through his writing. Jeffrey Brown has our appreciation of Talley as part of our arts and culture series, CANVAS.
Andre Leon Talley, the towering former creative director and editor at large of "Vogue" magazine, has died. He had a front-row seat to fashion shows around the world, and provided his readers a lens into that world through his writing.
Jeffrey Brown has our appreciation of Talley as part of our arts and culture series, Canvas.
At 6'6", Andre Leon Talley cut a large figure, and wore it well. And he had a major impact on the world of fashion.
Robin Givhan, The Washington Post:
He had tremendous clout and influence.
Robin Givhan, senior critic at large for The Washington Post, has long covered the fashion industry.
Andre Leon Talley was really a rare creature in the fashion industry because of the status that he had when he was at "Vogue." He was creative director. And that is a position that, in reality, no other Black person has held at American "Vogue."
Born in 1948, Talley was raised in North Carolina by his grandmother. He spoke of getting a first taste of style from her as they attended church.
Talley went on to study French literature at North Carolina Central University, before receiving a master's degree at Brown. He spoke in the 2018 documentary "The Gospel According to Andre."
Andre Leon Talley, "Vogue": I did not know who exactly I was. I was becoming. But I did get out of the Jim Crow South. Brown gave me a freedom, a liberation and propelled me into the world that I know.
An apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Brought him to New York and first encounters with the fashion industry.
Andre Leon Talley:
This is Andre Leon Talley reporting live from Paris.
He would go on to work at magazines, including "Interview" and "Women's Wear Daily," where he was Paris bureau chief, before serving as creative director at "Vogue" magazine.
He was a fixture on the fashion scene, a regular at runway shows. And he was also a rare Black editor in a largely white world.
You don't get up and say, look, I'm Black and I'm proud. You just do it, and, somehow, it impacts the culture.
He spoke out about the racism and anti-gay bigotry he faced along the way.
People have said many bad things about me. They used to call me Queen Kong. I was like an ape. I was a gay ape Queen Kong. But I had to move on. I had to get on with my career.
A student of fashion history, he was known for playing with that history, as in a reworking of "Gone With The Wind" in the pages of "Vanity Fair."
He was also known as an enthusiastic champion of designers he liked, here at the exhibition Black Fashion Designers in New York in 2016.
You have a plethora and a rainbow of success based on innate quality and innate technique. These people taught themselves. They had dreams, and they put their dreams in their fashion.
I honestly don't know that I have I have come across anyone who could be as effusive in their praise for something that they really admired or they really found — took pride in.
He was someone who I think was in a really challenging position for a long time, which is, he was such a unique character, and he had — he occupied such a high status, but, at the same time, he was only one person.
Today, tributes poured in that spoke to his influence as a role model.
Robin Givhan defines his legacy this way:
I think that, every time Andre took another step forward, he cleared the path a little bit more, he opened the door a little bit farther, so that a few more people could step through.
I mean, I think, every time he defied a stereotype, he made the fashion industry that much more inclusive.
Andre Leon Talley died yesterday in White Plains, New York. He was 73 years old.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown.
And all the more remarkable because he faced obstacles throughout his life, beginning with his childhood.
Watch the Full Episode
Jeffrey Brown is the chief correspondent for arts, culture and society at PBS NewsHour.
Anne Azzi Davenport is the Senior Coordinating Producer of CANVAS at PBS NewsHour.
Support Provided By:
Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Additional Support Provided By: