André LeonTalley is undoubtedly the most recognized and prestigious African American in fashion journalism. At 5’8 ” tall with a splendid baritone voice, Talley is pure emotion and eccentricism. A true trendsetter who served as a divine inspiration to the American edition of Vogue during the magazine’s growing dominance as a world bible.
A charismatic and vibrant figure to admire and learn from who, for over 25 years, has been at the forefront of international fashion as editor of Vogue USA, VanityFair, New York Times, Ebony, W magazine, Numero magazine , House & Garden, Interview or WWD.
André LeonTalley, former right-hand man and friend of Vogue USA editor-in-chief Anna Wintoury, with whom he formed one of the most influential and feared couples in the world of fashion, turns 72 today and on the occasion of his anniversary we want to review his contribution to industry.
Originally from the city of Durham, North Carolina, Talley graduated from the University of North Carolina with a BA in art and earned his MA in French Literature from Brown University.
Talley got her start in fashion as a volunteer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York’s “Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design” exhibition by legendary fashion editor Diana Vreelend, who was impressed by his work.
Shortly after, on her recommendation, he worked as a receptionist / assistant at The Factory for Andy Warhol, which allowed him to attend the place to be of the moment “Studio 54” and rub shoulders with the elite and private leadership of the industry such as Oscar and Françoise de la Renta, Bill Bass, Anne Klein, Diane Von Fusterberg, Bianca Jagger, Liza Minelli, Diana Ross, Elsa Perreti, Victor Hugo, Marisa Berenson, Naty Abascal, Loulou de la Falaise, Halston, Carolina Herrera, Manolo Blahnik, Grace Jones, Eunice W. Johnson or Paloma Picasso, among others.
After his time at Interview with Andy Warhol, Talley joined the team of Women’sWearDaily (WWD), the most prestigious fashion magazine of the moment, working both in New York and as a correspondent in Paris, surrounded, as always, by the Parisian elite: Karl Lagerfeld, Jacques de Bascher, Betty Catroux, Pierre Bergé, Baron Eric de Rothschild, Catherine Deneuve, Hubert de Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent.
After finishing her time in Paris and after leaving the publication, Talley returned to New York working as a freelance for Vogue Paris, The New York Times, Interview and Ebony. In the latter, in addition to being an editor, he was a correspondent for the Ebony Fashion Fair.
In 1983 Talley landed on the American edition of Vogue as fashion news director, alongside then-editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella; at the same time he was fashion editor for VanityFair under the direction of visionary editor Tina Brown and headed House & Garden as creative director, along with Anna Wintour, then editor of the magazine.
In 1988, André LeonTalley’s career took a historic turn when he was named by Anna Wintour as creative director of Vogue USA, becoming the first African American to hold a senior management position in the fashion headboard. Along with Polly Mellen, Dudzeele’s Carylen Cerf and Grace Coddington raised the magazine to the myth it is today.
After 12 years at Vogue, Talley moved to Paris to work for W, while continuing as a contributing editor. And in 1998, he returned to Vogue as general editor until his departure in 2013. 30 years in which he became a genuine style icon, a confidant of designers such as Miuccia Prada, Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld, and an encyclopedia of knowledge on the history of fashion, art and literature. One of the most anticipated celebrities on the Met Gala red carpet, the most important event in fashion; and also a staunch advocate of diversity, especially of black models, designers and / or fashion insiders within the industry.
André LeonTalley has published several books, including an autobiography entitled “A.L.T.: A memory”, an art monograph entitled “A.L.T.153” and controversial memoirs, “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir”. In addition, he has been the subject of a documentary, “The Gospel According to André” directed by Kate Novak, has commissioned numerous exhibitions including “High Style” at the SCAD Art Museum (2011) “Little Black Dress” at the American Center for Art and Culture Mona Bismarck (2013),“Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style” (2015), “Dress Up Story-1990 UntilNow” Vivienne Westwood’s largest exhibition (2015) in SCDAD and “Black Fashion Designers” in the Museum of the Institute of Fashion Technology (2017). Nominated for an Emmy Award for his weekly segment at Full Frontal Fashionde Metro TV, he is a member of the board of directors of Savannah College of Art and Design where he earned his honorary doctorate in art and has been awarded prizes such as Lifetime Achievement Award y el Fashion Icon Award.
André Leon Talley is an eminence of fashion journalism, a living industry legend and a man true to his roots and proud of his culture. A myth for his ideas, his work and his proud struggle for diversity.