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André Leon Talley
(October 16, 1949 - living) U.S.A.

André Talley

Fashion journalist

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André Leon Talley was born in Washington, D.C., as the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C. Talley, a taxi driver. His parents left him with his grandmother, Bennie Davis, who was a cleaning lady at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. Davis raised him and he claims he was given an "understanding of luxury." His grandfather was a sharecropper.

He grew up in the Jim Crow Era South, where the segregation was clear. He recalls "for a long time my grandmother would not allow white people to come into our house. That was her rule. The only white man who ever came into the house was the coroner." His love for fashion was cultivated at an early age by his grandmother, Bennie, and his discovery of Vogue magazine, which he first found in the local library.

André Talley
André Leon Talley and Grace Jones, Studio 54, New York City, c. 1980

André was educated at Hillside High School, graduating in 1966, and North Carolina Central University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in French Literature in 1970. He was later granted a scholarship to Brown University, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in French Studies in 1973. At Brown, he wrote a thesis on Charles Baudelaire and initially planned to teach French.

In 1974, he began working at Andy Warhol's Factory and at Warhol's Interview magazine; he also volunteered for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

From 1975 to 1980, André worked at Women's Wear Daily and W, before eventually starting at Vogue. Throughout his career, Talley, who is openly gay, has used his influence to bring greater visibility and opportunity to models and designers of color, including Jason Wu, whose work he famously brought to the attention of Michelle Obama before her husband's first inauguration.

André Talley
André Leon Talley - 2008

In the mid-2000s, an intervention was initiated by Anna Wintour to get André to lose weight. As seen on The Oprah Winfrey Show , he eventually lost a great deal of weight, and was eating more healthily.

In 2007, he was ranked 45th in Out magazine's "50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America". In 2008, André advised the future First Family on fashion, and introduced Michelle Obama to the Taiwanese Canadian designer Jason Wu from whom she bought several dresses including her inaugural gown. In October 2011, the André Leon Talley Gallery opened in the SCAD Museum of Art.

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Sources: http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/ - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - et alii

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