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Sun, 10.16.1949

André Talley, Fashion Director born

André Talley

*André Talley was born on this date in 1949. He was a Black Gay and Bisexual fashion news director and businessman.

André Leon Talley was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C. Talley, a taxi driver. His parents left him with his grandmother, Bennie Davis, a cleaning lady at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  She raised him and, he claims, gave him an "understanding of luxury."

His grandfather was a sharecropper. Talley grew up in the Jim Crow Era South, where segregation was clear. He recalls, “For a long time, my grandmother would not allow white people to come into our house. That was her rule. The only white man who came into the house was the coroner."

His love for fashion was cultivated early on by his grandmother, Bennie, and his discovery of Vogue magazine, which he first found in the local library. Talley was educated at Hillside High School, graduating in 1966, and at North Carolina Central University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature in 1970. He later received a scholarship to Brown University, earning a Master of Arts degree in French Studies in 1973.  At Brown, he wrote a thesis on Charles Baudelaire and initially planned to teach French.

In 1974, he worked at Andy Warhol's Factory in New York City and Warhol’s Interview magazine for $50 a week. That same year he volunteered for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He worked at Women’s Wear Daily and W from 1975 through 1980. He also worked for the New York Times and other publications before finally landing at Vogue, where he worked as the Fashion News Director from 1983 to 1987 and then as Creative Director from 1988 to 1995.

He pushed top designers to have more Black models in their shows. He left Vogue and moved to Paris in 1995 to work for W and served as contributing editor at Vogue. In 1998, he returned to Vogue as the editor-at-large until his departure in 2013 to pursue another editorial venture. He has been a Board of Trustees of the Savannah College of Art and Design member since 1995.

In the mid-2000s, an intervention was initiated by Anna Wintour to get Talley to lose weight. He eventually lost a great deal of weight and was eating more healthily. In 2007, he was ranked in Out magazine's "50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America". Talley has been a front-row regular at fashion shows in New York, Paris, London, and Milan for over 25 years. He uses his influence to promote young fashion designers and mentors talent in other fields.

In 2008, Talley advised the future First Family on fashion and introduced Michelle Obama to the Taiwanese Canadian designer Jason Wu, from whom she bought dresses, including her inaugural gown. His most famous pairings have been with designers Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and singer/actress Jennifer Hudson. He was known as a very close friend of Mariah Carey, fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons, and tennis player Venus Williams. In 2010, Talley was on the judging panel for America's Next Top Model.

2011 the André Leon Talley Gallery opened in the SCAD Museum of Art. From 2013 to 2014, he served as international editor of Numéro Russia, joining the team shortly after the magazine launched in March 2013 but resigning after twelve issues.  Talley's latest book, “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir," was released on May 19, 2020. In the book, he discusses getting his start in New York City in the 1970s, his tumultuous relationship with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and his experiences with racism in the fashion world.

André Tally, the visionary former creative director of Vogue magazine, died on January 18, 2022. He was 73

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