RIP André Leon Talley: Remembering an Icon Who Championed Diversity in Fashion


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The fashion world lost a beloved titan this week. Fashion editor, journalist, stylist, and all-around icon André Leon Talley has died at the age of 73 on January 18, 2022. He had a series of health struggles lately including a heart attack due to complications with COVID-19. He passed away at a hospital in White Plains, NY.

There’s an outpouring of love and memories being shared of the legend from the fashion and entertainment industries, since his death has been announced. There’s no denying that Talley’s impact reached far and wide and his larger-than-life appearance has left a lasting impression. He had a signature style that transcended generations. Known for his fashionably loud caftans that draped over his 6-foot 6-inch frame, Talley was a true fashion giant that will be greatly missed.


Who was André Leon Talley?


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To simply summarize Talley as a fashion editor or even as the editor-at-large of U.S. Vogue would be a great disservice to his memory and his impact. André Leon Talley, often referred to as ALT, was a pioneering icon in the fashion world who shattered glass ceilings. He has earned his “legend” status by not only helping to shape fashion for decades, but also by paving the way for other Black people to enter a primarily white industry at the top. His presence and determination has been an inspiration to many over the years.

Being a sexually fluid Black man, ALT had endured his fair share of homophobia and racism. In his memoir—The Chiffon Trenches, published in 2020—he wrote: “To my 12-year-old self, raised in the segregated South, the idea of a Black man playing any kind of role in this world seemed an impossibility. To think of where I’ve come from, where we’ve come from, in my lifetime, and where we are today, is amazing. And, yet, of course, we still have so far to go.”



Talley’s long and accomplished résumé can easily be found on Google—Ivy League grad, editor, journalist, stylist, creative director, TV personality, author, etc.—but it’s what he’s done in his positions of power that has made the most significant impact on an often elitist industry. For instance, in 1996, ALT cast Naomi Campbell as Scarlett O’Hara in a reimagining of Gone With the Wind for a Vanity Fair photo shoot. This was clearly making a huge statement on racism.


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In addition to his creative direction on photo shoots, he’s helped launch careers for other people of color who may otherwise not have been given a chance. He introduced First Lady Michelle Obama to a then-fairly unknown Taiwanese Canadian fashion designer named Jason Wu, who has dressed the first lady many times since and has grown to make a name for himself.

To learn more about Talley, there’s a documentary about his remarkable life called The Gospel According to André; and his memoir The Chiffon Trenches.


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A post shared by Andre Leon Talley (@andreltalley)

André Leon Talley: Instagram

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Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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