Anna Wintour Shares Cherished Memories of André Leon Talley — Including His Vibrant Personal Emails

The Vogue editor-in-chief wrote an intimate tribute essay to the late industry powerhouse, who was one of her closest friends

Andre Leon Talley - Life in Pictures
Photo: Guignebourg-Khayat-Taamallah/ABACAPRESS.COM

Anna Wintour is sharing intimate memories of her late friend, fashion trailblazer and industry icon André Leon Talley.

In an essay for Vogue, the magazine's editor-in-chief opened up about first meeting Talley — who died Tuesday at age 73 — in 1983 when Wintour was just hired as the magazine's creative director with Talley serving as fashion news director.

"We quickly became friends, in part because neither of us quite fit in with the non-nonsense and totally beige corporate atmosphere of the office: André had enough volubility to be onstage at the Metropolitan Opera, while I was just the weird Brit," Wintour, 72, wrote.

Wintour went on to share that while they started off as colleagues, Talley became an "intrinsic" part of her family.

"He'd stay weekends with us in Long Island... He was forever generous with generous with his time, and he was always the most entertaining house guest, critic, and cheerleader. He could lift everyone up. His cameos in our family summer movies were classic. And André consulted on fittings for whatever my daughter, Bee, and I would wear to the Met any given year."

Andre Leon Talley, Anna Wintour
Andre Leon Talley, Anna Wintour. Rose Hartman/Getty

Following Talley's death, Wintour wrote that she found herself going through her "many years" of emails with the late journalist, some of which include vibrant comments on Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's 2014 wedding.

Talley wrote: "I have never seen such organization, such imagination, and a sense of perfection. And such a diverse mix of people. Jaden Smith, 15 years old, went as an albino bat to the ceremony, it was beyond genius. An albino bat, go figure. And apparently he has his own clothing line. Kanye looked so handsome in Lanvin. And Alber Elbaz now really wears shoes, worn, beaten and coming apart, like Charlie Chaplin."

Wintour then raved about Talley's "way with words," and the touching way he was there for her when her mother unexpectedly died.

"I had just made it to London, despite a ferocious snowstorm which had gripped New York, and my husband and children couldn't join me for the funeral. I was so low, which André immediately realized. Being the force of nature that he was, absolutely nothing was going to stop him crossing the Atlantic to be there for me and for my family. Amidst a lifetime of memories of André, I will never forget his kindness, his chivalry, and his friendship," Wintour wrote of Talley.

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 him.

"There was a divide and then an earthquake," Talley told PEOPLE in 2020 of the fallout. "I felt, at a certain moment, she could not articulate it to me. Something happened."

Andre Leon Talley, Anna Wintour
Andre Leon Talley, Anna Wintour. Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

Despite their rough patches, Talley still considered his best-selling, 2020 memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, to be a "love letter" to Wintour. "I love her," Talley told PEOPLE. "People see my book as a vengeful, bitchy tell-all. It is not. My book is in many ways a love letter to Anna Wintour."

Talley first joined Vogue in 1983 as the magazine's fashion news director. He quickly rose to creative director and became Wintour's right-hand — a position he held from 1987 to 1995. 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 Vogue in 2013.

Over his career, Talley also contributed to Women's Wear Daily, The New York Times, and Interview Magazine. He is also the subject of the documentary The Gospel According to André, which was released in 2018.

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