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Fashion icon and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley dies aged 73

"The world will be less joyful now."

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: UGG

André Leon Talley, the former editor-at-large of US Vogue under Anna Wintour, has died at the age of 73.

The news was first reported by the US website, TMZ, who said Talley had passed away on Tuesday (18 January) before it was confirmed by his literary agent, David Vigliano.

Seen as a pioneer in the world of fashion, the journalist served as Vogue‘s first African-American male creative director from 1988 to 1995, championing diversity both on the runway and behind the scenes, and later appeared as a judge on America’s Next Top Model from 2010-11.

“The world will be less joyful now”

Leading tributes was the designer Diane von Furstenberg Diane who said: “Goodbye darling André … no one saw the world in a more glamorous way than you did. No one was grander and more soulful than you were.”

“The world will be less joyful now. I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years…. I will miss your loud screams and your loyal friendship…I love you soooo much”

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A post shared by Diane von Furstenberg (@therealdvf)

During a campaign for Ugg, which Talley starred in, Andrea O’Donnell, the former President of UGG, described Talley as “an inspiration,” adding “His story has been told many times, quite rightly, because his achievements are unique and significant.”

British Vogue editor Edward Enninful shared a picture of the pair together and wrote: “RIP dearest André. Without you, there would be no me. Thank you for paving the way.”

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A post shared by Edward Enninful, OBE (@edward_enninful)

Talley, known for his exuberant fashion sense, was born in 1948 and grew up in North Carolina. In his memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, he wrote that he would go to his local library to read issues of Vogue.

In 1974 he worked as an intern for the former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who then began to get into writing, working for titles such as W and The New York Times

Entering Vogue led to a meteoric rise for Talley who had roles including news director and then creative director until 1995 after which he left. Three years later he returned to contribute as the magazine’s editor-at-large.

Known for an up and down view of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, he once described her as “never really passionate about clothes. Power was her passion,” before later saying she was “the empress”

The Guardian reports that Talley never defined his sexuality, choosing to remain “fluid”. He told the New York Times that his childhood, and the abuse he suffered during it, contributed to a lack of relationships, but that the friendships of people such as designers Yves Saint Laurent and Azzedine Alaïa was enough for him.