With André Leon Talley’s passing comes the demise, too, of the illusory world of excessive style.
Solely Anna Wintour, Talley’s biggest frenemy, is left. When she goes, so goes the demimonde — and good riddance.
As Tom Ford advised the Monetary Occasions in 2016: “Vogue is evil.” Ford was as soon as a casualty, however not less than he made it out alive, now engaged on his personal phrases.
Legendary stylist Isabella Blow, designers Alexander McQueen, L’Wren Scott and Kate Spade — they weren’t so fortunate. All died by suicide, Blow and McQueen significantly brutalized by the trade.
Once I heard final night time that Talley had died, simply aged 73, my first thought was his exile from style certainly contributed. No matter his medical issues, he additionally died of a damaged coronary heart. Fashion was Talley’s everything. He thought style was protected to like. Vogue, he thought, would by no means go away him.
How fallacious he was. “There’ve been some very merciless and racist moments in my life on this planet of style,” Talley advised the New York Occasions in 2018. “Incidents when folks have been dangerous and mean-spirited and terrifying.”
But Talley might play that recreation, too, shopping for into this ugly enterprise of lovely folks, reveling in his personal position as gatekeeper. He was the outsider who turned an insider, as a lot of a creation as anybody else in that realm: talking with an indeterminate accent, issuing diktats and instructions with the authority of a four-star common, name-dropping and lolling about in a state of unsustainable hedonism.
In some unspecified time in the future alongside the way in which, Talley couldn’t discover the road between camp and crudity.
Take this story from Tim Gunn, who as soon as discovered Talley in a inexperienced room, “a translucent barber’s bib [spread] over André and he’s reclining, arms at his sides. He’s being fed grapes and cubes of cheese one after the other, like a fowl in a nest.”
To quote a maxim Gunn helped popularize: In the future you’re in . . .
Nonetheless, it was bracing to learn dispatches from Talley in exile, not in Anna Wintour’s favor, solid out, he mentioned, for being “too outdated, too obese, too uncool.”
By 2018 he was residing alone in White Plains, broke and facing eviction, dropped by almost all his fancy buddies, shocked at how reptilian and transactional that world was.
However Talley, whether or not he knew it or not, was additionally mourning one thing that not existed, a kingdom way back democratized by expertise, quick style, actuality exhibits and TikTok influencers.
Talley’s ultimate indignation was studying, a couple of years in the past, that he’d been fired as Vogue’s official red-carpet Met Gala interviewer, changed by a 20-something YouTube star.
That’s who has the forex: Not Vogue, not Wintour, however any child with a ring-light and a following.
“Vogue doesn’t handle its folks,” Talley mentioned in 2018. He hoped to keep away from the destiny of one-time YSL muse Loulou de la Falaise, who died broke and deserted by the trade.
“I’m very afraid of that,” he mentioned.
He was proper to be. Vogue has misplaced a real unique, and for higher or worse, we are going to by no means see his like once more.