Andre Leon Talley's weight loss in 2020 made lots of rounds on the internet. The fashion icon & creative genius has always had a rocky relationship with his weight. After dieting didn't work for him in the long run, he went to Duke Diet and Fitness Center, where he initially had weight loss but his weight bounced back. He had to keep frequenting the center as he kept on losing and then gaining back his weight.
The larger-than-life fashion icon, and former Vogue editor and creative director Andre Leon Talley breathed his last on January 18, 2022.
From growing up in Jim Crow-era South where he was stoned by college students when he crossed Campus to buy Vogue to being Vogue's first African-American male creative director in 1988, Andre Leon Talley had come a long way, and then some more.
Having prevailed over in an industry that was notoriously white and elitist as a black man with humble beginnings, he won at life but eventually lost it to complications from Covid at 73. He also had underlying health issues related to his weight.
Andre Leon Tally's Weight Loss Journey
Andre Leon Talley was born on October 16, 1948, to Alma Ruth Davis and William Carroll Talley. Not long after, he was abandoned by his parents and left with his maternal grandmother Bennie Frances Davis.
From the time he was 2 months old, he was raised by his grandmother in Durham, North Carolina, where she worked as a maid at the men’s campus of Duke University. Andre Leon Talley was very close to her grandmother who had cultivated him in an "understanding of luxury."
He had only his grandmother for his family. So, when she passed away in 1989, he didn't handle it well. He stopped taking care of himself. And that's when he started struggling with his weight. He had issues of overeating before but the momentum of weight gain spiraled out of control since then.
The weight that had long been a battle to Andre Leon Talley waged war on him finally. Used to being comforted by his grandmother's biscuits along with the pages of Vogue when he was dealing with sexual abuse in secret, he no longer had his grandmother nor could he eat away the sorrow because of weight. As someone who has always associated food with love, he had to deprive himself of love.
Hiding his 6-foot-6 frame and 300 pounds under long, regal caftans from Tom Ford and Ralph Rucci, Andre could pretend to the world that there was nothing obese about him.
But at some point, he had to come to self-realization. It happened as he entered his mid-40s. The lover of beauty and glamor felt unglamorous and un-Vogue-like particularly on a day when he was dressed in a jumpsuit when Anna Wintour took notice.
She suggested he start working out. Already self-conscious about it, when he could no longer hide it, he took steps to work on his weight. And his effort paid and he did lose weight after which he could wear his beautiful suits.
But nothing lasts forever so his weight loss process also didn't last. He began gaining weight again. Only this time, Anna set up an intervention for him in the Vogue conference dining room.
After one year of that, Andre admitted himself to Duke University Diet and Fitness Center for a several-week stint. He used to email Anna every day about his weight loss.
The fitness center turned out to be a fruitful decision as he lost 55 pounds by dieting even though he had been unsuccessful at dieting before. That could have been the end of his weight struggles once and for all but unfortunately, very irregular was his weight graph with steep falls and immediate rise following falls.
In the late 2010s, Andre frequented the fitness center quite a lot and prioritized exercise. In his final years, Talley took nearly all of the meals at the City Limits Diner near his home in White Plains, New York.
His weight was a never-ending struggle. He never got an upper hand when it came to food. He had it and ate it. Nothing stopped him until his weight gain started to get out of control. In his words, overeating became an addiction and he was a victim of his food, and he was a sinner when it came to food.
How Did Andre Leon Talley Navigate the Fashion World?
After obtaining a Master of Arts degree in French Literature from Brown University in 1972, Andre Leon Talley began working unpaid for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974.
Through the former Vogue editor did he enter the magazine world when it was arranged for him to work at Interview, and Andy Warhol's Factory. He wrote for Women's Wear Daily and W and, worked for The New York Times and other publications before finally landing at Vogue.
In Vogue, Andre served as the fashion news director from 1983 to 1987 and, later, as the magazine's first African-American male creative director from 1988 to 1995.
In 1995, to move to Paris to work for W, he left his role as creative director at Vogue but continued to serve as contributing editor. He returned to Vogue in 1998 as the editor-at-large, a position he held until his departure in 2013 to pursue another editorial venture.
Andre Leon Talley also judged the reality show America's Next Top Model from Cycle 14 to Cycle 17 from March 2010 to December 2011. He also worked as an international editor at Numero Russia from 2013 to 2014 till he had to resign due to anti-LGBT laws in Russia.
In April 2017, Talley began hosting his own radio show centered on fashion and pop culture on Sirius XM satellite station Radio Andy. In 2018, a documentary film about him The Gospel According to Andre, directed by Kate Novack was released.
He released The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir on May 19, 2020, which became a New York Times Best Seller.