Manolo Blahnik Reflects on 5 Decades of Friendship With André Leon Talley: ‘He Was Like a Brother to Me. He Was Always Shining.’

Few people knew André Leon Talley like Manolo Blahnik, who reflected on five incredible decades of friendship with the legendary editor in a heartfelt statement today.

He was like a brother to me, and I treasured every minute of our five decades of friendship,” Blahnik said. “André was a force in fashion and paved the way for so many creative people in an industry he adored and was integral to. He was honest, spirited and always candid.”

Talley died on Tuesday in a White Plains, N.Y hospital. The cause of death was not revealed, but The New York Times reported that he had been battling a series of health issues.

The editor, a larger-than-life fashion personality best known for his work at Vogue, ascended the ranks at a time when few Black voices were represented. At a young age, he made a name for himself at WWD, FN’s sister publication.

Manolo Blahnik and Andre Leon Talley
Manolo Blahnik and Andre Leon Talley at Rizzoli.
CREDIT: Stephen Sullivan/WWD

As he broke through barriers, Talley positioned himself at the center of the fashion world, and supported many of today’s best-known designers early on, including Blahnik.

“I will be forever grateful for the kindness and support he showed me throughout my career, from the very beginning,” Blahnik said. “Always incredibly thoughtful and generous with his time, sharing his irradiative knowledge of fashion and culture with me and many others. It was unrivaled.”

Blahnik said the friends spent hours on calls discussing “everything from films to books and our favorite times and places.”

Manolo Blahnik, Andre Leon Talley
An unstoppable pair: Manolo Blahnik and André Leon Talley at a W Magazine party for Kate Moss in 2003.
CREDIT: Fairchild Archive/Penske Media

We were never short of passions or imaginations to share with one another. He was always shining,” Blahnik said.

From the moment shoe legend debuted his now 50-year-old eponymous shoe collection, Talley was there — whether the pair was holding court at Blahnik’s Old Church Street store in London, ruling fashion parties in Paris or dancing at Studio 54 in 1970s New York.

In a 2017 interview with FN, Talley recalled the first time he met Blahnik, in Fire Island.

I was so impressed with his clothes. He had beautiful periwinkle blue linen lace-up oxfords, celery green oxfords, pomegranate oxfords. Some of the best times I had with him were in Bath, [England, where the designer still has a home]. He is a fabulous entertainer and raconteur. At Paloma Picasso’s wedding party, Manolo was just amazing, dancing on the balcony with Tina Chow. He is a man who will never stop.”

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