A fashion titan rests | The living

The term ‘larger than life’ floated as tributes poured out in remembrance of Andrew Leon Talley, fashion editor and style icon died on Tuesday January 18 at the age of 73.

Referring to both his personality and his physical stature, the phrase became a convenient descriptor long before he became an ancestor. Talley seemed to show a hint of discomfort when used in her presence as an introduction during her countless appearances as a fashion pundit on talk shows and red carpets.

The infraction was justified because of its repercussions on his morphology. But the towering frame of an unabashedly black man in an industry where thin white women have historically been affirmed as the acceptable norm has made his rise all the more extraordinary.

“A titan of fashion journalism serving us a sermon of haute couture knowledge with bravado,” model Iman said of remembering Talley.

In his glorious capes and elaborate caftans, Talley didn’t just proclaim himself worthy — he commanded a seat at the head of fashion’s royal table.

“Your clothes should make you feel fabulous,” Talley told a St. Louis audience while visiting for the Saint Louis Fashion Fund’s “Speaking of Fashion” lecture series, in conjunction with the 2017 Saint Louis Art Exhibit. Museum. Reigning men, men’s fashion, 1715-2015. “Not everyone may like the way you dress, but with everything you’re wearing, you have to feel like you’re absolutely the most fabulous thing walking down the street.”

Susan Sherman, co-founder of the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, was first introduced to Talley through a mutual friend and she invited him to speak as part of the series “Speaking of Fashion ” organized at the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2017.

“He was larger than life – which has been said a million times but it’s true,” Sherman said. “But he was also a gentle giant. He delighted in his mentorship of students and young designers in his later years.

Fashion designer Michael Shead, who had the honor of being Talley’s mentee, said he learned a lot about the ins and outs of the industry from the icon. He said he always instills the gem in him to make sure what you create is authentic to you.

“Make sure it’s authentic to your compass and make sure you’re doing what inspires you and being creative,” Shead said.

He also said Talley highlighted how the industry would challenge him and others in their work.

“He challenged me to the point where he told me you should only do evening wear and wedding dresses,” Shead said. “It was like it’s your strength, these department stores are dying. You’d be stupid to make ready-to-wear for the department stores.

Chi Anderson, a model and creative modeling coach, hasn’t had the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Talley like Shead and Sherman, but she did stress the importance of his influence.

“He created a path on his own and he thrived on it,” Anderson said. “There are so many people who tried to emulate Andre and they just failed. He was absolutely one of a kind. I hate not having had the chance to be in the same room as him.

With her presence, Talley has created a space for the next generation of black fashionistas – from designers, creative directors to journalists, models and photographers. He simultaneously provided style advice to some of the biggest names in popular culture.

“It’s the Nelson Mandela of couture, the Kofi Anon of what you got,” the Black Eyed Peas frontman said. William said in Kate Novak’s 2018 documentary “The Gospel According to Andrew.”

The film chronicles her nearly 50-year career spent climbing the ultra-exclusive and isolated ranks of the fashion industry. He interned with famed former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, worked with Andy Warhol at magazine interviewand was head of the Paris office for Daily Women’s Clothing. A New York Times A best-selling author, Talley is perhaps best known for teaming up with current Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in multiple roles for over 25 years. He became Vogue’s first black male creative director and later worked as its editor.

Prior to their famous breakup, he often praised Wintour for giving him the space to be in an industry that constantly reminded him he didn’t belong.

“What I remember is that I wasn’t so much his protector,” Wintour said of Talley in “The Gospel According to Andrew“To be totally frank, my fashion history isn’t that great, and his was impeccable, so I think I learned a lot from him.”

The first chapters of Talley’s encyclopedic knowledge of fashion, style, glamor and elegance came through the vogue magazine pages he flipped through in a public library in the heart of Jim Crow South during his formative years.

“Andre is one of the last of those great editors who knows what he’s looking at, knows what he sees, and knows where it comes from,” designer Tom Ford said in the film.

Andrew Leon Talley was born in Washington, DC on October 16, 1948, but was raised in Durham, North Carolina by his grandmother – who indoctrinated him with her sense of elegance and style. He had to face the harsh realities of segregation and racism, but fashion journalism provided him with a safe haven.

“My escape from reality has been vogue Magazine,” Talley said.

He was particularly influenced by seeing pioneer models Naomi Sims and Pat Cleveland in the pages of the magazine.

“I loved seeing black people in vogue, and they were two amazing black models who were changing fashion,” Talley said. “[Through their presence] I could see there were people who weren’t racist – who didn’t judge you for the color of your skin.

After earning an undergraduate degree from HBCU North Carolina Central University in his hometown of Durham, Talley earned a scholarship to Brown University, where he earned a master’s degree in French studies.

His classmates at Brown convinced him to look into his passion for fashion as a profession. He moved to New York in the mid-1970s. Within a decade, he had risen to the top of the pack. After a defining career at Daily Women’s ClothingTalley returned from France to lend his talents to the magazine which introduced him to the industry – where he became the first black male creative director.

He detailed his life in fashion bestseller “The Chiffon trenches: a memory. » The book also chronicles the racist abuse and personal attacks he endured as a black man in the predominantly white fashion industry.

“Chiffon trench coats are tough,” Talley said. “I make it look effortless sitting in the front row all these years with the attitude, the sable coats and the Prada coats – but it’s been hard. People say, ‘How do you do it? you endured this world for so long? I say, ‘by my faith and my ancestors’.

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