Lifestyle Style André Leon Talley's Life in Photos The industry trailblazer and former Vogue creative director died on Jan. 18, 2022, at the age of 73 By Kate Hogan, Jill Steadman, and People Staff Published on January 19, 2022 12:08 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 20 André Leon Talley's Early Life David Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images The only child of Alma and William, a printing-press operator and taxi driver, André Leon Talley grew up in Durham, N.C., under the eyes of his grandmother. A victim of sexual abuse starting at age 9, he escaped in fashion, crossing the railroad tracks to buy Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, he told PEOPLE in 2020. "I would devour them, hanging the pages on the wall — Naomi Sims, Pat Cleveland, the great African-American models. I made my own world," he recalled in that same interview. "I don't think I ever saw Andre in jeans," his cousin Georgia Purefoy told PEOPLE in 2003. "He was always into looking good." By 1974, with a master's degree in French literature from Brown University, Talley moved to New York City and landed a job assisting former Vogue editor Diana Vreeland with her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. "She recognized something in me," Talley told PEOPLE, "and encouraged it." 02 of 20 André Leon Talley and Diana Ross Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images Vreeland and Talley had a shared passion for a lot of topics, including Diana Ross (here with Talley in 1979). The two could "wax enthusiastically about" her, Talley told PEOPLE. 03 of 20 André Leon Talley and Anna Wintour's Early Days A series of journalism jobs (including under Andy Warhol at Interview) led Talley to a job at Vogue in 1983, alongside another new hire, the magazine's future editor Anna Wintour. The two went on to become lifelong friends and colleagues, though Talley said their relationship hit "an iceberg" in 2018 after some changes involving his role at the annual Met Gala. 04 of 20 André Leon Talley and Naomi Campbell In his time at Vogue, Talley was a champion for Black men and women in fashion, showcasing models like Naomi Campbell in traditionally white spaces like a famous Gone with the Wind-inspired shoot that saw Campbell as Scarlett O'Hara. "We wanted it to be a historical comment in the '90s that you rarely see in a magazine," he told the New York Times in 1996. "We wanted to temporarily turn the pages of history around." 05 of 20 André Leon Talley and Janet Jackson Khayat-Nebinger-Orban-Taamallah/ABACAPRESS.COM Outside of work, he developed friendships with countless celebrities and fashion luminaries, including Janet Jackson, here with him at the Vivienne Westwood show in Paris in 2006. 06 of 20 André Leon Talley and Renée Zellweger Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage With Renée Zellweger at the 2003 CFDA Fashion Awards. 07 of 20 André Leon Talley with Mario Testino and Amber Valetta Arthur Elgort/Condé Nast/Shutterstock Joining photographer Mario Testino and model Amber Valetta at Prada's Milan show in 2004. 08 of 20 André Leon Talley and Kristen McMenamy Catherine McGann/Getty Images Escorting model Kristen McMenamy at New York Fashion Week in the '90s. 09 of 20 André Leon Talley and Karl Lagerfeld Shutterstock With Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld during Paris Fashion Week in 2007. "It's wonderful to have friends like Karl," Talley told fashion executive Fern Mallis in a 2013 chat. "When I turned 50, he gave me $50,000." 10 of 20 André Leon Talley and Tom Ford Erik T. Kaiser/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images Celebrating designer Tom Ford at Saks Fifth Avenue in N.Y.C. in 2005. "André is one of the last of the great editors who knows what they are looking at, knows what they are seeing, knows where it came from," Ford said of his friend in the 2018 documentary about Talley's life, The Gospel According to André. 11 of 20 André Leon Talley and Cher Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images Snuggling up to Cher at the 1997 Met Gala. 12 of 20 André Leon Talley and Sandra Bullock Front row with Wintour and Sandra Bullock at the Calvin Klein collection show at New York Fashion Week in 2003. 13 of 20 André Leon Talley and Tyra Banks Larry Busacca/WireImage Talley was also friends with Tyra Banks, serving as a judge on her reality competition show, America's Next Top Model, for several seasons. 14 of 20 André Leon Talley in 2006 Johnny Nunez/WireImage With Tyson Beckford, Naomi Campbell, Iman and Janice Dickinson at the Fashion for Relief event in N.Y.C. in 2006. 15 of 20 André Leon Talley and Anna Wintour for Vogue Rose Hartman/Getty Images In a 2020 chat with PEOPLE, Talley called Wintour his greatest supporter at Vogue. He left Vogue in 1995 and moved to Paris, where he returned to W Magazine after working at the publication earlier in his career. He continued contributing to Vogue as an editor until he rejoined the magazine in 1998 full-time as the editor-at-large, writing the monthly column Style Fax. He stayed in this role until his final departure from the magazine in 2013. 16 of 20 André Leon Talley and Anna Wintour's Friendship Guignebourg-Khayat-Taamallah/ABACAPRESS.COM Talley and Wintour's decades-long friendship became strained after a red-carpet shakeup rocked Talley's usual Met Gala duties, when a YouTube personality was named host of the 2018 event, in lieu of Talley. "I owe to her the pioneering role that I had of a creative director of Vogue," Talley told Gayle King in 2020. "I was the first Black man to ever be named such. I owe that to Anna Wintour. I owe her much. And I think, in turn, I think she owes me." Wintour never spoke of the pair's apparent divide, though upon Talley's death on Jan. 18, 2022, released a statement remembering their storied friendship. "He was magnificent and erudite and wickedly funny—mercurial, too," she wrote in an Instagram caption for Vogue on Jan. 19. "Like many decades-long relationships, there were complicated moments, but all I want to remember today, all I care about, is the brilliant and compassionate man who was a generous and loving friend to me and to my family for many, many years, and who we will all miss so much." 17 of 20 André Leon Talley and Diane von Furstenberg Patrick McMullan via Getty Images Remembering her dear friend in a Jan. 19 chat with PEOPLE, Diane von Furstenberg said, "He was bigger than life. He was quite remarkable in every way and had such a wonderful joie de vivre. He was extraordinary and he was so grand and so elegant and it was completely innate." 18 of 20 André Leon Talley's Style Andrew Toth/Getty Images Outside of his actual work, Talley was known for his one-of-a-kind sense of style, which often included flowing robes ("like those of the bishops and cardinals," he once told Garden & Gun). "Every designer made kaftans for him," von Furstenberg told PEOPLE. 19 of 20 André Leon Talley at the Met Gala Larry Busacca/Getty Images In one of his signature looks at the 2011 Met Gala. 20 of 20 André Leon Talley's Legacy Cindy Ord/Getty Images At one of his more recent outings, the 2018 SCAD Savannah Film Festival. "I expect him to get bigger than bigger," von Furstenberg told PEOPLE of Talley's legacy. "I think he's going to become a bigger star — bigger than ever. He deserves to be."