By LaKeshia N. Myers
To know me is to know I adore a good auction or estate sale. Ever the historian, I like rare items, signed pieces, and sentimental oddities that can claim space in an unassuming home. This is why I was overjoyed when I learned that select items from the estate of legendary fashion icon and former Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, Andre Leon Talley, would be up for auction.
Talley was Black excellence personified. After earning a degree in French literature from North Carolina Central University, he won a scholarship to Brown University. From Brown, he went on to be an apprentice to Vogue Magazine editor, Diana Vreeland. This apprenticeship set Talley on a trajectory that catapulted him into the fashion stratosphere. Andre Leon Talley not only wrote about fashion, he was a highly sought after stylist, creative director, and former judge of America’s Next Top Model.
What I loved most about Mr. Talley was that he took up space, both literally and figuratively. At 6’6”, Andre was difficult to miss and always dressed to the nines. He believed that clothing should be of quality and that one should always present themselves in the best light. He was a southern; his fashions were inspired by his weekly church attendance with his grandmother in North Carolina. He often stated, “life is a runway”—therefore you should always dress the part. Talley was present—front row at most fashion shows and used his presence and power to demand opportunities for Black fashion designers, seamstresses, tailors, and models in the fashion industry.
His 2022 death was a blow to the fashion industry; but I truly felt the impact of Andre’s life when I participated in the auction last week. Bidders were participating from across the globe—England, Paris, Vietnam, Nigeria, and America. All clamoring for a piece of the beloved Mr. Talley. He was still, in death, serving as a benefactor to the institutions that fed and fueled him throughout his life—the church. The proceeds of the auction were donated to Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem and Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Durham, North Carolina.
If ever I needed a reminder that we are limited by the confines of time and that we should all strive to excel and make life easier for those that come behind us, Andre Leon Talley was the perfect example. He was gracious, but he was the epitome of style.