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How Dallas Remembers Fashion Pioneer André Leon Talley

The legendary fashion journalist, stylist and author André Leon Talley died on January 18. Talley made history as the first Black man to be editor-at-large at Vogue magazine.
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Courtesy of CBS via YouTube

The world is paying tribute to the legendary Vogue editor André Leon Talley, who died this week at the age of 73.

We start with Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, who wrote a heartfelt tribute of her friend and former colleague: “The loss of André 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 André’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 colorful faxes and emails were a highly anticipated event, something we all looked forward to.”

Designers, stylists, and celebrities from across the world are remembering Talley’s contributions to journalism, fashion, and pop culture. That includes creatives in Dallas. Charles Smith II, the Harlem-born, Dallas-based fashion designer, eulogized his mentor on Instagram. “Thank you for your impact on the world, this industry and myself. You showed us that our people can ascend to levels being exactly who you are and using it to our advantage while living in your truth unapologetically and with class and dignity.”

Smith continues, “I will cherish every text, every phone call and critique and be the inspiration you were for me for the next generation and creatives that look like us as you were for me and so many others. Rest In Power King 👑 🕊🕊🕊

Andre Was Here”

Venny Etienne, the Dallas-based fashion designer and FrontRow contributor, wrote on Instagram, “Watching this one tonight. Sleep well Andre Leon Talley 🕊. Your contribution to the world and to fashion will live forever. Thank you for every day you blessed us with. You’ve touched so many lives.”

His post was accompanied by an image of The Gospel According to Andrè, a 2018 documentary that chronicled Talley’s ascension into couture and high fashion as a young, curious Black gay man from North Carolina.

The documentary is available to stream on HBO Max and Hulu. It’s a good glimpse into the editor’s four decades as a fashion giant. Pay particular attention to his origins as a young Black boy whose introduction to fashion was through Bennie Davis, his churchgoing, Southern grandmother. Her Sunday best outfits, which she complemented with gloves, inspired him to dream of luxury and elegance as he sat beside her in the church pews. Davis, a cleaner at Duke University, inspired someone who Tom Ford would call one of the “last great editors.”

Talley was a champion of a bygone era, where editors and journalists were fully immersed in their areas of expertise, where news professionals witnessed the creation of industry-defying trends, and where friendships were forged over genuine love of the craft, not partnerships driven solely by economics.

Talley was an editor who achieved historic firsts and paved the way for trend-setting designers like LaQuan Smith and celebrity stylist Law Roach. He gave Rihanna the title of “Princess of The Met Gala” in 2015 as she ascended the steps of The Metropolitan Museum in a yellow Guo Pei Dress.

What a joy to exist in a world where a gay Black man from the South changed fashion, whose influence was felt from Milan to Dallas.


Taylor Crumpton

Taylor Crumpton

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Taylor Crumpton is the former online arts editor for FrontRow, D Magazine’s arts and entertainment blog. She is a proud…

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