André Leon Talley’s unexpected passing on Tuesday came as a shock to many in the fashion industry, and the outpouring of love and reminiscing of shared memories demonstrates how much of a force he was for fellow fashion editors, designers, creative directors, models and many others.
When he was working at Vogue under then editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella, he wanted to bring a fresh perspective to the American publication and push for diversity. Throughout Talley’s career, he’s spoken openly about moments of discrimination he faced as one of the few Black figures in fashion during the ’70s and ’80s, however he never let it stop him from excelling.
Talley brought an immense knowledge of fashion history and an understanding of style on par with his European counterparts, and that led to mentorship from influential figures such as Diana Vreeland and Karl Lagerfeld, which left a lasting impression on both his personality and career.
Having experienced success from his legendary fashion friends opening the gateway for him, he’s generously done the same for others—notably championing international designers by making introductions or including them in publications, and these are five Asian designers and brands he’s passed the baton to over the years:
1. Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo established Comme des Garçons in Paris in 1973, around the time Talley was there starting his fashion journalism career, and he took notes. Talley was responsible for including more Japanese designers in the pages of Vogue in the ’90s, especially after witnessing the boom of debuts he saw in Paris.
Commes des Garçons was recognised for the distressed and “bag-lady” chic look during the ’80s, and acknowledged by publications like Women's Wear Daily, it wasn’t until their inclusion in Vogue that Commes was adopted into the American mainstream and would become more than a cult name in fashion.