This Week in Fashion: The Chiffon Trenches
The fabulous, extraordinary, incapable, and Amazing life of the late great Andre Leon Talley.
The year 2022 has been full of surprises as well as losses. Still, the most significant loss so far has been of the legendary fashionista, style guru, and Couture aficionado Mr. Andre Leon Talley or ALT, what his close friends addresses him as.
He was larger than life. From his humble beginnings being raised in the Deep South by his paternal Grandmother, he survived Segregation. At the same time, learning how to become stylish in a small town in North Carolina when being a domestic was considered a high-paying respectable position.
Leon was exposed to Fashion at an early age from his grandmother and her love for Hats!
There was a hat for each occasion. Easter, wedding, Christmas, funeral, baby showers, and Christening.
In the African American community, The Black Church is your first introduction to High-Fashion, because Sunday is the day the black community comes together collectively to showcase their style, wealth, class, and their best pieces for all to envy.
In downtown Durham North Carolina, Jo Belle's clothing store was a far cry from the high-end clothing stores lined up on 5th Ave in New York City, in which Andre would become a fixture inside and behind the scenes.
The Hallways of his High school Hill Side High is where Andre Became a trendsetter. Over 6" 5 he would attend school in a cape and topped heat as if he was a Prince of some sort, very flamboyant, he was outstanding, and he stood out because of his satire and unique style. He also learned French to become as pose and collective as possible. He was bullied because of his class, mannerisms, popularity, and Grand Style.
On October 16, 1948, Talley was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C. Talley, a taxi driver. At least one of his grandfathers was a sharecropper. His parents left him to be raised by his maternal Grandmother, Binnie Francis Davis, who worked as a cleaning lady at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. After her death, Talley credited her for giving him an "understanding of luxury" and stated, "I miss her almost every day."
He grew up in the Jim Crow era South, where Segregation defined social boundaries. He said, "For a long time, my grandmother would not allow white people to come into our house. That was her rule. The only white man who came into the house was the coroner." His early love of Fashion was nurtured by his grandmother and further cultivated upon his discovery of Vogue magazine at a local library at the age of nine or ten.
After graduating high school in 1966, with the aspirations of becoming an Opera singer, he won a North Carolina Central University scholarship. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature in 1970. He won a scholarship to Brown University, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in French literature in 1972.
King of the Meta Ball
While in Providence, Rhode Island, he was lucky enough to apprenticed, unpaid, for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974.
He became a popular fixture in the New York fashion and art scene in the '70s and 80s.
Andre became a Superstar and a part of the inner fashion circle beginning in the days of studio 54 and Halston to being of the only African American males front row at fashion shows all over the world. His friends were Versace, Andy Warhol, Naomi Campbell, Grace Jones, and his boss and best friend, Anna Wintour.
Later in life, Andre's health became a topic of discussion. His weight has been a constant battle, Andre vs. Weight. He managed to get it under control but unfortunately lost his battle unexpectedly on January 18, 2022.
American fashion journalist and the former creative director and American editor-at-large of Vogue magazine. He was the magazine's fashion news director from 1983 to 1987 and its creative director from 1988 to 1995. He authored three books, including two memoirs, and co-authored a book with Richard Bernstein. Talley's life has come to an end. Which I would describe as an "end of an era."