André Leon Talley, a fashion journalist and editor who was best known as a creative director and editor for Vogue magazine from his hiring in 1983 to 2013, died Tuesday night at 73. Talley was known for his eccentric personality and extravagant personal style, and he worked throughout his career to hire more diverse models and designers in the predominantly white fashion industry.

As a near genius-level fashion historian and stylist himself, Talley was adored by designers he worked with at Vogue and elsewhere, including Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, and Paloma Picasso. He once worked with Andy Warhol at Interview Magazine, served as a stylist for Barack Obama, and even was as a panel judge on three cycles of America’s Next Top Model.

Talley was born in Washington, D.C. in 1948 and was raised by his grandmother Binnie Francis Davis, a cleaning lady, in Durham, North Carolina during Jim Crow. In the documentary about his life, The Gospel According to André, he reflected that he loved his hometown, “But I knew life was bigger than that. I wanted to meet Diana Vreeland and Andy Warhol and Naomi Sims and Pat Cleveland and Edie Sedgwick and Loulou de la Falaise. And I did. And I never looked back.”

He studied French Literature in college and initially planned to teach French after receiving his Masters from Brown University, but broke into fashion when he managed to secure an unpaid apprenticeship with famed fashion editor Diana Vreeland through pestering contacts in Providence.

From there he worked at several publications including Interview and The New York Times before finally landing at Vogue where he would spend 30 years pushing fashion culture forward.

He has written two memoirs, A.L.T.: A Memoir, in 2003, and The Chiffon Trenches, 2020, in which he openly discussed racism he faced during his time in the fashion industry and spoke up about his sometimes-tumultuous relationship with Anna Wintour.

Wintour’s statement about Talley was posted on Vogue‘s Twitter Wednesday. She remembered him as a bright presence in the Vogue offices and an inspiration to many. You can read her full statement below:

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