Jan 18, 2023
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André Leon Talley's estate to be auctioned at Christie's

Jan 18, 2023

​The longtime Vogue editor and fashion insider, who passed away last year, has designated all proceeds to his beloved churches in New York and North Carolina.

André Leon Talley was a one-of-a-kind tour de force in fashion whose endorsement or disapproval could make or break a collection or designer. Nowhere was his good taste more evident than in his art collection, haute-couture, accessories, and other decorative art paraphernalia. A year after the former editor passed away at 73, Talley's most cherished possessions will be featured in a sale at prestige auction house Christie's.

Louis Vuitton trunks - Courtesy

Beginning January 27 through February 17, the collection of the groundbreaking fashion editor will be sold in a series of live and online auctions. The sales will make stops in Palm Beach and Paris. The amassed items serve as a collective visual journey of the vanguard member's rarefied ascent in fashion that led him to cultivate close relationships with Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada, Ralph Rucci, Tom Ford, and more. The fruits of these relationships are reflected in the multi-city auction's multiple lots.

Among the items on the block are his haute-couture collections, handbags, jewelry, and beautiful objects that combine fashion, fine art, literature, and interior design, each bearing the former fashion figure's passion for beauty and intellectual curiosity. The items span 50 years of fashion history and reflect his love for his grandmother and esteem for his mentors and bosses, such as Diana Vreeland and Anna Wintour.

"André Leon Talley's fashion sensibility was singular and timeless. He was categorically chic, and the collection he amassed throughout his life was unlike any other. Talley's endless love for all things from monogrammed Louis Vuitton trunks to custom Tom Ford caftans, each lot is imbued with meaning and linked to his larger-than-life persona and legacy, which continue to inspire us all," said Elizabeth Seigel, Christie's head of private and iconic.

Other items on offer include an iconic Alice Springs photo of the late style authority entitled André Leon Talley, 'La Villa Vigie,' 1989 inscribed 'with love to André, which is estimated at $2,000 to $3,000 and a pair of Chanel glass and gilt metal cuff bracelets estimated at $4,000 to 6,000 along with Bottega Veneta sunglasses, Baccarat candle holders, Hermés glasswear, sketches made especially for Talley signed by Karl Lagerfeld and an Andy Warhol print depicting Diana Vreeland.

Outside of the fashion industry, the other passion in Talley's life centered around his church community, the first being the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, and later the Abyssinian Baptist Church in the city of New York. The proceeds of the sale will be donated to the two religious organizations. The executor of the estate, Alexis Thomas, a close friend of Talley's, helped to facilitate the donations.

A gold brocade caftan - Courtesy

"André was an intellectual with a lifelong dedication to social justice and a pioneering vision for Black creators and luminaries. André saw his collection of beautiful objects, laden with fashion history, as his legacy, and it's an honor to ensure that its sale will benefit the two churches he attended. As we embark on a global tour with the collection, we hope to bring the magic of  André Leon Talley into the lives of those who have long admired him," Thomas said in a statement.

The auction house partnering with Thomas will create opportunities to "elevate voices from diverse backgrounds and to expand Christie's network of vendors, contributors, and tastemakers," according to a release. The tour and catalog will feature Talley's mentee, American designer LaQuan Smith, and his friend and style icon, Diane Von Furstenberg.

For Smith, being involved with Talley’s legacy via the sale’s tour and catalog is a highly personal experience. “Andre had a deep love of culture and beauty. He not only collected beautiful things, which you can see in this auction but helped to support and build up the artists that created these pieces, “ he said via email, adding, “Andre’s mentorship and friendship changed my life. At the age of 21, a new designer, he took me under his wing and gave me the support and nurturing I needed to succeed. I hope that people remember that part of his legacy more than anything else.”

The items the late editor left behind defined Talley, who created a style that made him appear regal; even the caftans had a practical aspect. “It’s safe to say that we all remember Andre’s most iconic looks as his voluminous coats, caftans, and robes. I always thought he looked so majestic in his signature style,” Smith continued.

He counts the Tom Ford aubergine silk kimono banyan among his favorites. “Tom Ford, much like Andre, is one of my mentors. So there is a special double meaning for me there. The Dior brooches are also beautiful and the perfect touch of glamour.”

The André Leon Talley collection will be sold through a live sale at Christie's New York on February 15 and two online sales ending on February 16 and 17. A defining selection of highlights will begin a global tour this month, debuting in Palm Beach from January 18 to January 31 and, continuing in Paris from January 23 to 26, coinciding with the haute-couture collections.

Talley's legacy includes becoming the first Black male to become the creative director of American Vogue. Highly educated via studies of French, first at the University of North Carolina and then a master's degree in French from Brown, combined with southern manner and etiquette instilled by his grandmother, Talley was pedigreed despite his humble beginnings as the son of a taxi driver.

He began his career working for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, then worked for Interview Magazine, Women's Wear Daily, The New York Times, and Vogue. There, Talley served as fashion news director-turned-creative director and editor-at-large, working side-by-side with legendary editor Anna Wintour for decades. Talley passed away on January 18, 2022, at the age of 73, from a heart attack presumably brought on by weight gain and Covid, which he contracted despite actively avoiding others to escape the deadly virus.

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