The pioneering fashion journalist André Leon Talley died on Tuesday in New York at the age of 73.
His death was confirmed on his Instagram account. The cause of death was not disclosed.
For decades, the former Vogue creative director and editor shaped fashion and trends, but was never afraid to break the rules.
Talley was born in Washington, DC and raised in Durham, North Carolina, by his grandmother, Bennie Frances Davis, who he said had a flair for fashion and influenced his attraction to the industry.
He said he ventured to the Durham Library as a child and discovered Vogue, starting his relationship with the publication as a devoted reader.
Talley attended North Carolina Central University before obtaining a master's degree in French studies from Brown University in the early 1970s.
Working as an assistant to Andy Warhol put Talley in a powerful position for the worlds of art and culture. That decade, he became office manager in Paris for Women's Wear Daily and contributed fashion coverage to The New York Times. In 1983, he worked for Vogue as a fashion news director and later as a creative director.
He left Vogue in the 1990s, returned as an editor, and left forever in 2013 to pursue an opportunity to run Numéro Russia, a style release, but left after a year. When Barack Obama stepped up to the White House, Talley was contacted to advise the first family on fashion.
In the following years, he appeared on the reality TV hit "America's Next Top Model" as a judge, an ultimate judge, which was his way.
Talley's gaze was intense and frightening, his 6-foot-6-inch frame a preview of the knowledge and intellect behind his fashion critique.
His idea of effective fashion included breaking rules, but only if you know the rules.
In 2017, Talley addressed the trend of men in pants - the short version of the jumpsuit - and told St. Louis Magazine: "The romper trend is not something that is universal. I can not see Kanye West going out in a pair of pants or Drake, Justin Bieber. Certainly not Leonardo DiCaprio. James Corden could take a pair of pants off."
Talley's influence extended beyond the runway and the blank pages: he appeared in the 2008 big screen version of "Sex and the City", the Vogue documentary "The September Issue" and "Valentino: The Last Emperor", a documentary about the designer. He was also the subject of the 2018 documentary, "The Gospel According to André."
"Over the last five decades, as an international icon, he was a close confidant of Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso, and he had a penchant for discovering, nurturing and celebrating young designers," said the social media post. reported on his death.
His 11-bedroom colonial in White Plains, New York, which was the subject of a legal dispute this year over who owns ownership and residency, seemed to suggest Talley's sense of style, comfortable but magnificent. It included the sofa from author Truman Capote's apartment at United Nations Plaza.
He has said that Vogue's description of Capote's Black and White Ball, a sovereign party when he grew up, as a refined world where "bad things never happened" triggered lust and imagination, wrote The New York Times in its review of his memories from 2020, "The Chiffon Trenches."
Talley's memoir became known for talking about his tumultuous relationship with another fashion god from Vogue, Anna Wintour. But it also brought a new understanding of his own childhood and attraction to fashion runways - and how race in America was the key to his drug.
His voice was more than insidious. He used it to encourage inclusion in an industry that has its racial archetypes. He was a constant voice in encouraging the underrated over-achievement of black culture, especially in the field of style.
Rihanna. Janelle Monae. Kerry Washington. Lupita Nyong'o. When they went to the Met Gala, what he called the fashion Super Bowl, he cheered on them like a proud parent. "How beautiful is your dress," he told Washington.
His sense of propriety and splendor in fashion goes back to his days of going to church with his grandmother. He often made the difference that this was not just a church, but a black church.
"In the Black South, church culture was almost like a graduating school," Talley told Garden & Gun in 2018.
He told the magazine that one of his proudest moments was when Edward Enninful became the first black man to lead British Vogue, and he told Talley, "You paved the way."
Information about Talley's survivors and services was not immediately available Tuesday night.