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  • Writer's pictureMikahila Bloomfield

Life Lessons from Iconic Fashion Journalist André Leon Talley

"But I had to move on. I had to get on with my career."

To celebrate the legacy of acclaimed fashion journalist André Leon Tally, who inspired countless fashion aspirants who bore witness to his storied career, we’ve combed through Tally’s decades-deep career — beginning with his time at Andy Warhol’s factory to his appointment at Vogue and his iconic moments as a television personality, in order to uncover some great life & career lessons from the venerable fashion legend who we lost on January 18, 2022, at the age of 73 due to a heart attack.

The 2018 documentary “The Gospel According to André” chronicled the extraordinary career of the consummate fashion insider and former Vogue editor at large. The film featured archival footage from the 1970s when Talley went from working with Warhol to assisting Diana Vreeland, Vogue editor-in-chief. The film also depicts the intimate relationships Talley has developed with power players over his career.

Young Andre Leon Talley
Andre Leon Talley

As a child of the Jim Crow South in America, Talley would frequently reference his achievements in climbing the fashion ranks as having realized the "American Dream". Yet, there were moments where he revealed that he hadn't completely escaped systemic racism. He experienced pay disparity at Vogue, where he was the first (and only to date) Black creative director. While he was being paid $300,000 his peers were hauling in closer to $1 million.

After leaving Vogue, Talley had grown to be an even larger cultural figure in the media, having served as a judge on America's Next Top Model for four seasons, appearing in television shows like Empire, and dressing some of the public's biggest stars. His career in fashion serves as an inspiration to many, which is why we've rounded up some of our favorite inspirational quotes from Andre Leon Tally's momentous career.

Quotes by André Leon Talley

“You don’t get up and say, ‘I’m black and I’m proud’ you just do it and it impacts the culture.”

The Gospel According to André (2018), documentary.

“Darling, clothes are not important in this pandemic. What’s important is your strength that comes from your faith, your values. All of that is very ingrained in you, so therefore you can survive.”

Interview magazine (2020)

“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 (2010)

“Wearing clothes should be a personal narrative of emotion. I always respond to fashion in an emotional way.”

A history of the little black dress, CNN (2012)

“It’s the famine of beauty. The famine of beauty, honey! My eyes are starving for beauty!”

The September Issue (2009)

“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.”

The Hot Seat: André Leon Talley, Time Out (2009)

With his mentor Diana Vreeland in 1974. (Photo Credit: Bill Cunningham Foundation)

What's your favorite quote from André Leon Talley? Leave a comment below, follow Fashion League on Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for Faux or Fashion™ trivia, and the latest job postings from some of your favorite companies.

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