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SCAD reacts to passing of fashion icon André Leon Talley

André Leon Talley visits with SCAD students in New York City at Oscar De La Renta offices. Photo courtesy of SCAD.

Reports indicate he passed away in a hospital near his home in White Plains, N.Y. He was 73 years old.

By Allison Joyner

André Leon Talley with SCAD President Paula Wallace during 2012 commencement weekend.
Photo courtesy of SCAD.

The Savannah College of Art Design (SCAD) community is in deep mourning after the passing of fashion journalist and former Board of Trustee member André Leon Talley.

“André had the heart of an educator, and took that work seriously as a longtime member of the SCAD Board of Trustees, SCAD commencement speaker and frequent giver of masterclasses,” SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace said in a statement.

After receiving his Bachelor’s in French studies at North Carolina Central University and Master’s from Brown University, Talley moved to Paris until Vogue fashion editor convinced him to move to New York in the early 1970s. 

From the receptionist at Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine to Paris bureau chief for Women’s Wear Daily and finally the creative director and editor-at-large under Anna Wintour at Vogue, Talley dressed former first lady Michelle Obama and was later known as a judge on “America’s Next Top Model.”

André Leon Talley posing in front of curated exhibit “Little Black Dress” at SCAD MOA in 2013. Photo courtesy of SCAD.

 “André [was] fashion’s true original,” Wallace said. “A polymath, his incisiveness on film, architecture and design were as well-honed as his eye for fashion.”

In addition to being on the board for over 13 years, Talley was SCAD’s first recipient of the SCAD Lifetime Achievement Award in Fashion in 2001. It was later renamed the “André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award.” 

The SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah also benefited from Talley’s talents when he curated the “Little Black Dress” exhibition in 2012. 

Encouraging students and alumni, Talley coordinated internships and job opportunities with major fashion houses, designers, film and television studios and gave insight to over 50 final collections in the annual SCAD fashion shows.

Talley donated his “ALT Collection” to SCAD which includes photos, artwork and other memorabilia for students to observe and use for inspiration and research for their future endeavors. 

“He loved SCAD students,” Wallace said. “A couple of years ago, after a screening of “The Gospel According to André Leon Talley” at SCAD Atlanta, he held forth on stage for hours, taking selfies with at least a hundred eager students, making each one feel loved and seen.”

No information on funeral arrangements has been provided at this time.  

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