André Leon Talley in History of American Fashion
André Leon Talley (1948-present) is the editor-at-large of Vogue magazine, and one of the most internationally recognizable figures in the fashion industry. Talley was the magazine's creative director in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he proclaimed that his mantra was "opulence, opulence, opulence."8 At six-foot seven-inches, Talley—who is African-American—usually makes a grand and flamboyant entrance to couture fashion shows, where he has appeared in enormous fur and crocodile-skin coats, among other items. He is a proponent of "the well-groomed looks of the fifties and sixties" for African Americans, since he considers such classical style to be timeless.9 Talley has also noted that the comparatively small number of black models on Vogue covers "reflects the culture that we live in. Black people are still a minority. These numbers reflect the way of the world. Society just isn't ready for it on a frequent basis."10
Talley was born in Washington, D.C. and later raised by his grandmother in North Carolina following the divorce of his parents. His grandmother—who cleaned the men's dormitories at Duke University for a living—bought him the best clothes for church. After services Talley would walk to the white section of town in order to buy the New York Times so that he could gaze at its fashion sketches by the dynamic designer Antonio Lopez. Talley wrote his master's thesis on Baudelaire at Brown University, but he has claimed fashion as his first love since he was a teenager.