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After André Leon Talley, Reflecting on Fashion’s Racial Struggle

The loss of the pioneering Black editor, like that of Virgil Abloh, leads creatives to take stock of fashion’s progress and pitfalls

André Leon Talley in New York in 2010.

André Leon Talley in New York in 2010.

Photographer: Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Corrected

To many, the fashion editor André Leon Talley, who died Jan. 18 at 73, was singular. His knowledge of fashion history, his kindness in a notoriously relentless industry, and his love of glamour could not be beat. And throughout his career, which began with an internship at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and included roles at Women’s Wear Daily, W and Vogue, he was also one of the few Black people working in a place of mainstream prominence in fashion.

“He was quite a figure, and quite a striking figure,” said the supermodel Beverly Johnson. “Really opinionated and loud and fabulous and striking and, being the only Black person in the front rows of the fashion shows, really taking up that space that we needed him to take up.”