Vogue editor-in-chief Dame Anna Wintour has remembered her former collaborator Andre Leon Talley as “magnificent and erudite and wickedly funny” after his death at the age of 73.
The former Vogue creative director worked side by side with Dame Anna, one of the most influential magazine editors in the world, for decades until a fracture in their relationship.
The fashion trailblazer, who was a pioneer in magazines and on the front row of couture shows as a black man, and became recognisable to those outside the industry for his role as a judge on reality show America’s Next Top Model, died in New York on Tuesday.
A statement from Wintour shared by Vogue said: “The loss of Andre is felt by so many of us today: the designers he enthusiastically cheered on every season, and who loved him for it; the generations he inspired to work in the industry, seeing a figure who broke boundaries while never forgetting where he started from; those who knew fashion, and Vogue, simply because of him; and, not forgetting, the multitude of colleagues over the years who were consistently buoyed by every new discovery of Andre’s, which he would discuss loudly, and volubly — no one could make people more excited about the most seemingly insignificant fashion details than him.
“Even his stream of colourful faxes and emails were a highly anticipated event, something we all looked forward to.
“Yet it’s the loss of Andre as my colleague and friend that I think of now; it’s immeasurable. He was magnificent and erudite and wickedly funny — mercurial, too.
“Like many decades-long relationships, there were complicated moments, but all I want to remember today, all I care about, is the brilliant and compassionate man who was a generous and loving friend to me and to my family for many, many years, and who we will all miss so much.”
Talley was hired by Dame Anna at Vogue in 1983, and in 1998 was appointed the magazine’s creative director.
He left the magazine in 1995 for a stint at fashion publication W before returning to Vogue as editor-at-large until 2013.
In 2020, he released his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, which shared details about his complex relationship with Dame Anna.
Talley was also a larger-than-life personality on screen and in 2018 he appeared in documentary The Gospel According To Andre, directed by Kate Novack.
He also played himself in shows such as Sex And The City and Empire, and was a judge alongside Tyra Banks on modelling competition show America’s Next Top Model.
During his tenure at Conde Nast, he was the force behind numerous notable shoots and interviews, including one with former US first lady Michelle Obama, and is credited with helping to elevate a number of black models.
During a career spanning five decades, he befriended big names in the fashion world, including Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Paloma Picasso, and was beloved by Hollywood’s A-list.
Actresses including Kerry Washington, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer paid tribute, with Scandal star Washington joking that the afterlife would be “just too fabulous” following Talley’s death.
Actress and supermodel Milla Jovovich lamented the loss of a “force of nature” in her tribute and said she felt “lucky” to have encountered him multiple times in her career.
Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, credited Talley with forging a path for him, while designers including Marc Jacobs and Diane Von Furstenberg also paid tribute.