Anna Wintour on André Leon Talley, an Extraordinary Friend and Colleague

The day after André died, I started going through many, many years of his emails to me. While before this he used to communicate via violently colored faxes, email was a revelation to him, and his—always rendered in different colors and fonts—were brilliant, explosive, funny, opinionated, and exhilarating. People always say that tone is lost over text and email—not with André.

Those emails say so much about him. Here he is writing from Kanye West’s wedding to Kim Kardashian in Florence in 2014:

“I have never seen such organization, such imagination, and a sense of perfection. And such a diverse mix of people. Jaden Smith, 15 years old, went as an albino bat to the ceremony, it was beyond genius. An albino bat, go figure. And apparently he has his own clothing line. Kanye looked so handsome in Lanvin. And Alber Elbaz now really wears shoes, worn, beaten and coming apart, like Charlie Chaplin.”

Unsurprisingly, clothes—his, mine, and those seen in runway shows—made for some of André’s most incisive and hilarious commentary. One collection invoked his ire: “What was all that stuff, Amish uniforms on steroids. Pretentiously artistic! FASHION NUNS Meets The Handmaid’s Tale.” Another, from Marc Jacobs, a designer who André believed in so much, brought an opportunity to rave:

“What I really want to say is that Marc Jacobs as usual is the only great, great show in New York City. Why do we have to sit through a tsunami of crap just to get to him? We have to. It’s life. It was a master class of style, true style. A master class. I was knocked out by the beauty, the sheer brilliance and polish. People must be embraced, loved, and supported. No matter what it takes. I just send missives to Marc. I don’t even go backstage anymore. He prefers the words.”

André clearly had a way with words, but his actions also spoke volumes. Years ago, when my mother died unexpectedly, I had just made it to London, despite a ferocious snowstorm which had gripped New York, and my husband and children couldn’t join me for the funeral. I was so low, which André immediately realized. Being the force of nature that he was, absolutely nothing was going to stop him crossing the Atlantic to be there for me and for my family. Amidst a lifetime of memories of André, I will never forget his kindness, his chivalry, and his friendship.

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