André Leon Talley was — quite literally — a towering figure in fashion.
The six-foot-six aesthete, who was appointed the first-ever black creative director at Vogue in 1988, died on Jan. 18 at the age of 73.
Known for his consummate poise, charm and sheer love of fashion and luxury, Talley cultivated close bonds with many of the industry’s elite, including Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Naomi Campbell, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Manolo Blahnik and Diane von Furstenberg, many of whom paid their respects on social media.
He also enjoyed a decades-long friendship with Anna Wintour, though the duo’s relationship grew sour in recent years.
Though Talley extolled the finer things in life — memorably showing up to play a round of tennis decked out in head-to-racket Louis Vuitton in the 2008 documentary “The September Issue” — he also valued comfort, even serving as the face of Ugg in 2021.
Below, see some of the style legend’s most iconic quotes about fashion and life.
Talley sits next to Anna Wintour in the front row of a fashion show in 1996Getty Images
“It’s the famine of beauty. The famine of beauty, honey! My eyes are starving for beauty!” – “The September Issue”
“I don’t consider myself a slave to fashion, but a custodian and curatorial person of fashion.”
“Luxury: it’s not about going and buying the most extraordinary set of luggage or the most extraordinary ring or six-ply cashmere sweater — that’s luxury, too — but luxury can also be you having lunch with your best friend Karl Lagerfeld.” – Yale Daily News
“Wearing clothes should be a personal narrative of emotion. I always respond to fashion in an emotional way.” – CNN
“Clothes are my security blanket, and my outfits are my armor against the world of the chiffon trenches.” – “The Gospel According to André Leon Talley”
Talley with Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger in 2004WireImage for Tommy Hilfiger
On his career
“I love people – it is not the fashion, it is the people in fashion I love.”
“I do believe there’s a heaven. I do believe that God has given me the resilience and the survival skills to withstand the chiffon trenches.”
“I may have had moments of hauteur. H-A-U-T-E-U-R. But I was never a snob.” – The Guardian
“Be kind. Smile. I read this somewhere: ‘If you smile, it means you are in control of your destiny.’” – Glamour
“I earned my position not because I was a beautiful, skinny – you can look at the pictures – articulate black man. But because I had done my homework and my degrees. I never thought about being a man of color in my career until recently.” – The Guardian
Dancing at Studio 54 with Diana RossGetty Images
On his legacy
“I’d like to be remembered as someone who made a difference in the lives of young people — that I nurtured someone and taught them to pursue their dreams and their careers, to leave a legacy. You cannot live your life in the elitist world of fashion and not step out or you’re disconnected. You have to realize that fashion is not the endgame.” – Time Out
“I scorched the earth with my talent and I let my light shine.” – The Guardian
“My story is a fairytale of excess, and in every fairytale there is evil and darkness, but you overcome it with light. I want every person I come across – the stranger on the street, the church member in the pew next to me – to feel love. I have not been privy to love in my life, but I want them to feel that they have received some love from engaging with me, André Leon Talley.” – The Guardian
At Vogue’s Forces of Fashion conference in 2017Getty Images