Not sure how many people here follow luxury/high fashion, or did at one point.
But Andre was, for decades, one of the most visible and highly-ranked Black people in the industry.
Grew up in segregated North Carolina, developed an interest in the industry from reading mags at his local library, and went on to study at NCCU and Brown before leveraging his ivy connections to get his foot in the door.
I first learned who Mr. Talley was as a kid, watching fashion tv religiously for some reason... and there was something so comforting about always seeing this tall, portly, friendly-looking Black man in the front rows, right up there with all the stiff big wigs.
I grew to learn who prominent houses and designers were based on whether he attended these shows or was interviewed backstage. I loved how much authority his presence/commentary had.
Later, I would learn he not only served as a welcoming figure for (Black?) kids like me strangely drawn to this world of design, textiles, makeup, photography, aesthetics etc... but for Black models, makeup artists, photographers, celebrities and other artists/professionals trying to break in. Naomi, Tyra, Tyson, Pat McGrath, etc, you name it. He also helped Michelle Obama navigate the fashion world and connect to designers and stylists when her profile exploded as a result of Barack's election.
But as one might predict, despite being one of the most experienced and authoritative voices in that industry, he was at times targeted bc of his race and sexuality. I learned today from a reflection on his life/books that he was nicknamed 'Queen Kong' by some; rumored to be sleeping with designers to maintain access/relevance; and even accused of corporate espionage once (stealing designs from one fashion house to give to another). Typical tiresome, racist, bs even at his level. From his PEERS.
But even with those sour points, I hope he passed feeling fulfilled by his legacy and the incredible heights he reached in his field. To go from growing up a Black gay boy in the south to such an authoritative voice in one of the most exclusionary and elitist industries in Europe/America was certainly no easy feat, especially during the decades in question - but I think this is a testament to how much he must have truly loved fashion and its possibilities.
There are lots of articles and clips to learn more about him if interested, especially today. But just wanted to write this about him. He was definitely a figure that I remember fondly dating back to my childhood. Rest well, sir.
4. "Good of you to share. " In response to Reply # 0
TBH, I think I always had a negative impression because I heard that he had a history of keeping other black people down so that he could be the only black person in the room. It's good to hear another more personal impression and the impact he had.
********** "Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson