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André Leon Talley’s best fashion moments: from bespoke suits to iconic kaftans

Beloved fashion icon André Leon Talley has died at the age of 73, leaving the fashion world in mourning.

The former US Vogue creative director died in New York on Tuesday, his representatives confirmed in a statement.

Over his five-decade-long career, Talley, who became US Vogue’s first African-American creative director from 1988 to 1995 and later the magazine’s editor-at-large, was a glamorous staple at events like runway shows, red carpets and launches.

Fellow designers, models and other members of the fashion industry paid tribute to Talley as a “force of nature”.

We take a look at some of the late journalist’s best fashion moments throughout his life:

Suited up

In the early days of his career, Talley was rarely seen without one of his bespoke suits on at the numerous events he attended.

In his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, he chronicled his career in suits – from wearing vintage topcoats and tweed trousers he found at thrift stores during his time as a “glorified receptionist” at Interview magazine, to wearing his “favourite custom-made double-breasted navy blue suit, with a pink shirt” for his first meeting as creative director of US Vogue.

Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley attend the Oscar De La Renta fashion show for the Fall/Winter 2003 Collection at The Pavillion in Bryant Park during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week February 10, 2003

(Getty Images)

The below photograph of Talley in 1982, when he was 34 years old, wearing a classic double-breasted pinstripe suit accessorised with big sunglasses and an animal-print folio shows off his early style chops.

Taken by Andy Warhol, the black-and-white street style photograph shows Talley posing with a huge smile on his face and one fist resting on his hip. It was posted on The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Instagram account.

Fur baby

While fur is now largely frowned upon, Talley never shied away from donning it. He particularly loved wearing fur shawls and shrugs to accessorise his custom-made suits.

He wore fur of all shades and colours during runway shows. Below, he’s pictured next to US Vogue‘s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour during the Calvin Klein 2007 Fall show and the pair both wear fur.

Andre Leon Talley (L) and Anna Wintour attend the Calvin Klein Fall 2007 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week February 8, 2007 in New York City

(Brad Barket/Getty Images For IMG)

In love with Uggs

Uggs are widely known as the “ugly shoes that everyone loves to hate”, but Talley declared his unbridled love for the ultra-comfortable boots when he became the new face of Ugg in 2021.

He previously made headlines for wearing Uggs to sit in the front row of fashion shows, but this look Talley wore next to Wintour at the premiere of The Great Gatsby in 2013 really made heads turn.

Editor-in-chief of American Vogue Anna Wintour and André Leon Talley attend the “The Great Gatsby” world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on May 1, 2013

(Getty Images)

Talley defended his footwear choices, telling W Magazine last year: “I find them so comfortable and so chic, and they work with my working wardrobe, especially during fashion week. I was seen in the front row with Uggs and that’s how I got a relationship with them.”

Capes galore

It was no secret that Talley was a great lover of wearing capes, most commonly displayed during the many Met Galas he attended over his career.

Talley, who stood at 6ft 7, first debuted his signature cape look at the 2003 Met Gala, when he arrived in a shiny pinstripe coat with white trim and pink accents over a tidy tuxedo.

In 2008, he was accompanied to the Gala by Venus Williams, but stole the show with his scarlet cape, which was so huge it draped both him and Williams as they walked the red carpet.

Vogue Fashion editor Andre Leon Talley and tennis player Venus Williams depart from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

(Getty Images)

The 2011 Met Gala saw Talley make his entrance wearing a royal blue cape that trailed behind him as he walked up the stairs at the venue.

Andre Leon Talley attends the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2011

(Getty Images)

He wore the oversized coat over a black tuxedo and red patent leather shoes with matching red socks.

Kaftan King

Aside from billowing capes, Talley also had a penchant for wearing luxurious kaftans.

Andre Leon Talley attends the Marc Jacobs Fall 2020 runway show during New York Fashion Week on February 12, 2020

(Getty Images for Marc Jacobs)

For Talley, the more elaborate the kaftan, the better. None were quite so luxurious as a bespoke kaftan made for Talley by US designer Daniel Day, also known as Dapper Dan, in 2018.

Day, who is largely credited for pioneering urban luxury fashion in the 80s, went from being one of the fashion industry’s most controversial figures to collaborating with Gucci for their 2018 tailoring campaign.

In a documentary about his life, The Gospel According to Andre, Talley said that he chose to have the embroidered red and gold kaftan made by the designer because: “I wanted people to know how proud I was of a black man who finally got his proper due and respect from the vicious, cruel beast of fashion.”

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