So saddened by the death of André Leon Talley, the onetime Vogue editor and “pharaoh of fabulosity,” who died of a heart attack Jan. 18 at age 73. I can still see the larger-than-life fashionisto sweeping into City Limits Diner in his hometown of White Plains in one of his voluminous capes, holding court as if he were Lorenzo de’ Medici at a place where he will be surely mourned. That memory encapsulates the man: However “grand” his manner, he was plebeian in many of his tastes and more than kind. At a reception at Morgan Stanley’s Purchase headquarters, where he received Katonah Museum of Art’s Himmel Award and held forth on fashion and other topics during the Himmel Lecture, he appraised my maroon ensemble and said, “You look good.” I could’ve floated home. High praise indeed.
His last years were marred by a painful split with Vogue. How good it was to hear Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour acknowledge that and the man in her elegant comments, which read in part: “Like many decades-long relationships, there were complicated moments, but all I want to remember today, all I care about, is the brilliant and compassionate man who was a generous and loving friend to me and to my family for many, many years, and who we will all miss so much.”