With a persona that is flamboyant and larger than life, Andre Leon Talley, a fashion journalist since 1974, changed the way fashion was written and discussed about.
Earning a bachelors at North Carolina Central University and masters at Brown University, Talley first launched into his career by working closely with Andy Warhol at his Factory and Interview magazine. Thereafter Talley would go on to work at Women’s Wear Daily, W, and New York Times before landing at Vogue. While there Talley acted as the Fashion News Director from 1983 to 1987, as Creative Director from 1988 to 1995 and as the editor-at-large from 1998-2013. During this time, Talley would go on to win 2003’s Eugenia Sheppard Award for Fashion Journalism from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and 2008’s Honorary Doctor of Humanities from the Savannah College of Arts and Design.
But even with Talley’s extensive list of accomplishments, he never stayed silent about the lack of diversity seen in fashion.
"How many African-American or any diverse ethnic individuals do you have at the heads of any of the high niche magazines or high niche design brands? You can count them on one finger. How many people are there that have broken the glass ceiling? There are very, very few. And you know the world has really not changed and you have to be acutely aware of the world around you. One of the reasons that I think the world has not changed, being a black man, is that people try to look at me without color, but color is always there. The whole Ferguson situation was a throwback to me of the late fifties and growing up in the South and the civil rights era. This is always a permanent part of the American mainstream. And people do not feel comfortable addressing it. Therefore there are ceilings that I have not broken that I should have broken already and one is television. And it is always shocking to me how many people have tried to get me a television show of my own.
[But] when you think about the world, the world does not accept uniqueness, the world does not accept difference. Do you know how hard it is for me to come out wearing this? What some people consider a dress? What I’m wearing is what men in North Africa wear everyday. It takes a lot of courage to get up and to be me. And I think it takes a lot of courage to even get up and face the world because the standards of the world aren’t always necessarily my standards, but I live in the world of success, I live in the world of whiteness and success. But I also must always look over my shoulder and see how many people have broken ceilings. How many people in the world of fashion have maintained these huge brands? Can you name a black designer that you know who has a huge brand? No. There is not one. "
Andre Leon Talley opened the door for black fashion journalist and editors and for that we say thanks!