André Leon Talley is the former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, listed as Contributing Editor in the April 2010 masthead. Talley has been a front-row regular at fashion shows in New York, Paris, London and Milan for more than 25 years. He uses his influence to promote young fashion designers and mentors young talent in other fields.
His most famous pairings of late have been with designers Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and singer/actress Jennifer Hudson. He is known as a very close friend of pop diva Mariah Carey, fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons, and tennis star Venus Williams. In 2007, he was ranked 45th in Out magazine's "50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America". Talley has an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Savannah College of Art and Design, where he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. As of March 2010, Talley was serving on the judging panel for America's Next Top Model (from Cycle 14 to Cycle 17).
Talley was born in the community of Hayti, Durham, North Carolina, as the son of Alma Ruth Davis and William C. Talley. His parents left him with his grandmother, Bennie Davis, who raised him and, he claims, gave him an "understanding of luxury." After graduating from North Carolina Central University, Talley received his master's degree in French from Brown University. While at Brown, Talley befriended students from the nearby Rhode Island School of Design and often went on weekend trips to New York City. He is associated with former American Vogue editor-in-chief and Costume Institute consultant, Diana Vreeland. His first job was as an assistant for Andy Warhol for $50 a week.
In the mid-2000s, an intervention was initiated by Anna Wintour, to get Talley to lose weight. As seen on The Oprah Winfrey Show, he eventually lost a great deal of weight, and was eating more healthily.
In 2008, Talley advised the future First Family on fashion, and introduced Michelle Obama to the Taiwanese Canadian designer Jason Wu, from whom she bought several dresses including her inaugural gown.
He had a cameo appearance in the 2008 movie Sex and the City as a Vogue executive. He also appears in the movie-documentary about the Italian couturier Valentino Garavani, Valentino: The Last Emperor and in the documentary The September Issue. In October 2011, the André Leon Talley Gallery opened in the new Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art. He also made a cameo in Mariah Carey's "Say Somethin'" video.
Talley wrote an autobiography entitled A.L.T.: A Memoir, published in 2003.
He also authored A.L.T. 365+, an art monograph designed by art director Sam Shahid, published in 2005. 365 features photos and captions from one year in the life of André Leon Talley.
Also co-wrote MegaStar with Richard Bernstein, a book with an introduction from Paloma Picasso, which has portraits of famous stars.