Remembering his most iconic quotes

André Leon Talley was – quite literally – a towering figure in fashion.

The six-foot-six aesthete, who was named Vogue’s first-ever black creative director in 1988, died on January 18 at the age of 73.

Known for his consummate poise, charm and absolute love of fashion and luxury, Talley has cultivated close ties with many industry elites including Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Naomi Campbell, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld , Manolo Blahnik and Diane von Furstenberg, many of whom paid tribute on social media.

He also maintained a decades-long friendship with Anna Wintour, although the duo’s relationship has soured in recent years.

Although Talley bragged about the finer things in life — memorably showing up to play a game of tennis decked out in Louis Vuitton one-on-one in the 2008 documentary “The September Issue” — he also valued comfort, even serving as the face of Ugg. in 2021.

Below, check out some of the style legend’s most iconic quotes about fashion and life.

Andre Leon Talley and Anna Wintour
Talley sits next to Anna Wintour in the front row of a fashion show in 1996
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On fashion

“It’s the famine of beauty. The famine of beauty, darling! My eyes are hungry for beauty! – “The September issue”

“I don’t see myself as a slave to fashion, but as a guardian and curator of fashion.”

“Luxury: it’s not about going out and buying the most extraordinary piece of luggage or the most extraordinary ring or six-ply cashmere jumper – that’s also luxury – but luxury is also lunch with his best friend Karl Lagerfeld.” – Yale Daily News

“Wearing clothes should be a personal story of emotion. I always react to fashion emotionally. – CNN

“Clothes are my security blanket and my outfits are my armor against the world of chiffon trench coats.” – “The Gospel according to André Leon Talley”

Talley with Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger in 2004
Talley with Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger in 2004
WireImage for Tommy Hilfiger

On his career

“I love people – it’s not fashion, it’s fashion people I love.”

“I believe there is a paradise. I believe God gave me the resilience and survival skills to withstand the muslin trenches.

“I may have had moments of height. HEIGHT. But I’ve never been a snob. – The Guardian

“Be nice. Smile. I read this somewhere: ‘If you smile, you are master of your destiny.’ – Charm

“I won my job not because I was a handsome, skinny black man – you can look at the pictures – articulate. But because I had done my homework and my diplomas. I never thought about being a man of color in my career until recently. – The Guardian

André Leon Talley dancing at Studio 54 with Diana Ross
Dancing at Studio 54 with Diana Ross
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On his legacy

“I would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference in the lives of young people — that I nurtured someone and taught them to pursue their dreams and their careers, to leave a legacy. You can’t live your life in the elite world of fashion and not go out or get disconnected. You have to realize that fashion is not the end game.” – Free time

“I burned the earth with my talent and let my light shine.” – The Guardian

“My story is a fairy tale of excess, and in every fairy tale there is evil and darkness, but you overcome them with light. I want everyone I meet – the stranger in the street , the church member in the pew next to me – feel love. I haven’t been aware of love in my life, but I want them to feel that they have received a little love in engaging with me, André Leon Talley. The Guardian

André Leon Talley at the Vogue's Forces of Fashion conference in 2017
At Vogue’s Forces of Fashion conference in 2017
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