André Leon Talley stood at 6-6”, but loomed even larger when alive; he ushered in a new era of fashion while also changing the face of it. Talley’s bigger fashion legacy, his estate, began being auctioned off on January 27th and (will go through next month online) and will culminate in a live sale at Christie’s in NYC on February 16th. With his sharp sense of style and noted opinions (in his 2018 documentary, Talley said, “you don’t get up and say, ‘look, I’m Black and I’m proud,’ you just do it and it impacts the culture,”) Talley helped to create space for himself and others like him.
The former Vogue fashion editor and creative director died in 2022, leaving behind a fashion treasure trove that filled two entire houses. The live sale will include many items from Talley’s extensive fashion collection ––haute couture, handbags, jewelry, fine art, books, custom luggage, and more. Talley’s fashion treasures are a who’s who of designers he collected over the years such as custom made caftans (his signature look), designs by the likes of both friends and designers Diane Von Furstenburg and Tom Ford. Some other notable things to look for include letters between him and designer Karl Langerfeld, watches, and furniture.
Given Talley’s larger place in fashion and pop culture, the Christie’s auction is sure to draw a lot of attention. Prior to the in-person auction, Christie’s will also host an online auction of items as well as online sale from 1/27-2/16. Some highlights from the online auction include:
- A french block printed wallpaper fragment from 1840 is a gorgeous item. It’s an incredibly detailed and colorful image from that era. And, what’s even more interesting, and the provenance even notes it was a gift from Diane Von Furstenburg! Christie’s has it estimated to sell between $1,500-2,000.
- In addition to being the head of the Chanel fashion house from 1983 until his death, and being the creative director for fur and leather goods at Fendi, on top of his own globally successful label, Karl Lagerfeld was also a pretty active artist. Talley’s estate features a number of sketches, drawings by Lagerfeld as well ranging from two portraits, photographs, and prints. These items are estimated in value ranging from $400 to upwards of several thousands of dollars.
- There are also a number of gorgeous pieces of jewelry for sale in both the online and live auction. Some items in the online auction include necklaces, cufflinks, and watches. A personal favorite is this trio of stunning Dior rhinestone brooches. Estimated between $2,000-$3,000, it seems like a steal for the price.
The in-person auction at Christie’s will take place on 2/16 in New York City. There are also a wide range of items to look at for this sale and some items to look for on the auction block will include:
Born in 1948 in North Carolina, Talley was greatly influenced by the culture of the Black church he grew up in (in fact, proceeds from the sale of his estate will go to benefit two churches of his choice). He would go on to study French literature at North Carolina Central University. In 1972 Talley earned a master’s degree at Brown in the same topic.
Talley’s rise to fame in the industry resulted in him breaking many barriers and changing the face of fashion. He made his way up the ranks at Vogue first as fashion news director from 1983-87. Following this role, Talley became Vogue’s Creative Director, the first Black man to hold this title, Talley worked as Editor at Large at Vogue until 2013 where he helped to shape the magazine for the 21st century by championing young designers and helping to place other people of color at the forefront of the fashion industry. Talley was also a judge on America’s Next Top Model, wrote three best selling books, as well as working at nottable publications such as Interview, Ebony, and the New York Times among others.
The money made from both the live and online auctions will go to Abyssinian Baptist Church located in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City and Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. Both of these churches were close to Talley’s heart and are helping to further secure his legacy.