Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2022
Farewell: Andre Leon Talley
I first met Andre Leon Tally at the American Embassy in Paris in 1994. Pamela Harriman was the U.S. Ambassador to France at that time. I was invited to a Vogue party in celebration of Steven Florio’s rise to President and CEO of Conde Nast. Many dignitaries of the fashion world were present including; Paloma Picasso, Issey Miyake, Isabella Rossellini, Jerry Schatzberg and John Galliano. Standing taller than any of the other guests at 6’6” was none other than Andre Leon Talley. It was a time period in which John Galliano was becoming widely known for his genius as a fashion designer but also for his incredibly self destructive ways. Andre took him under his wing and some would say single handedly resurrected Galliano’s life and career. This is the type of person Andre was.
He was born in Washington D. C. in 1948, the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C. Talley. His parents sent Andre as a child to Durham, North Carolina to be raised by his maternal grandmother who recognized his early interest in fashion. He was a bright student who excelled in academic studies through his high school and college years where he eventually received a Master of Arts degree in French Literature from Brown University. After graduating from college he moved to New York City where he set his ambitions on becoming a creative force in the fashion world. After an apprenticeship with Vogue magazines legendary editor in chief, Diana Vreeland, he was hired as Vogue’s first African American male creative director from 1988 to 1995. He became an icon and major influencer in the fashion world. Once you met him you would never forget him. Rest easy legend.