As spring comes into full bloom, we lay all of winter’s grief to rest. This past Friday offered global style icons and fashion history enthusiasts the opportunity to do just that at the memorial for André Leon Talley. Held at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church on 84th and Fifth Avenue, friends, family, and industry legends gathered to say their final goodbyes.
Among those in attendance included Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Kimora Lee Simmons, Claire Sulmers, Zac Posen, and Diane von Furstenberg. As reported by The New York Times, supermodel Karlie Kloss stood beside former Vogue creative director Grace Coddington “in the center of the church.” Bette Midler could also be seen looking down from the balcony.
Global editorial director of Vogue and global chief content officer for Condé Nast, Anna Wintour was also in attendance. Wintour spoke on Talley’s legacy, having worked with him for years, despite the bittersweet end of their working relationship. As the economic frame of the fashion industry shifted, Talley lost his contract with Vogue. While he’d woven himself in and out of the publication more than once over the years since the 80’s, it wasn’t until 2018 that the complications between Talley and Wintour became public. After being replaced as the red carpet interviewer for the Met Gala by YouTuber Liza Koshy, Talley expressed that the switch was a form of “colonialism” in his memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches.”
Nevertheless, Wintour spoke of him and their relationship with love and sincerity. She also spoke of how Talley flew to England to be by her side at the time of her mother’s passing, and the love he had for her own children.
There were dozens of iconic style stars present to pay homage to André Leon Talley, but if there was a supernova of the memorial to be named however, that award would go to Naomi Campbell. The iconic model arrived in an all white, vintage Rolls-Royce, draped in an Elsa Schiaparelli feathered number that the Times described as “like an angelic swan headed for a gospel brunch.” Campbell also spoke at the service in honor of her dear friend.
While Talley may have had southern roots as a boy who was raised in Durham, North Carolina, his impact in the fashion world and on other young men who grew up looking for a representation of themselves in the industry, transcends international borders. May his legacy live on.