On The Square

Fashion Features come and go, but Icons Live Forever

By E. Jung

Sep 12,2023 | 16:00 EDT

It’s no accident that caftans experienced their comeuppance, but they’ve had staying power that outlasts the typical fashion cycle in the last few years. Seen in 2019 on the mainstage of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 11 “Category is: Caftan Realness” and again in Florence for the debut of Emilio Pucci’s 2023 Spring Ready to Wear Collection, this ancient holy garment turned 1970’s resort wear has seen multiple reincarnations, for years and years. 

Now, whom do we have to thank for ushering their permanence into the fashion cannon, giving everlasting eye-catching flow on catwalks and Palm Springs poolsides? Why, of course, André Leon Talley. 

Highlighting the late fashion journalist, editor-at-large of Vogue and fashion royalty is STAIR Galleries, with an upcoming sale of personal belongings from Talley’s estate. STAIR introduced the “The Collection of André Leon Talley” in a recent press release:

“With taste and grace, André Leon Talley rose from his childhood in the Jim Crow South to the pinnacle of the fashion world with his unerring sense of style, his intelligence, and his quick wit. As the first Black man to hold the title of Creative Director at American Vogue, Talley’s rarified status in the fashion industry allowed him to pursue what was personally important to him, establishing decades-long relationships with icons in the industry and supporting young designers and their nascent talent. The Collection of André Leon Talley reflects all the facets of his life and is the legacy he leaves behind for all those who knew him, admired his work and championed his singular place in an industry known for its elitist and insular attitudes.”

This auction offers a unique opportunity to delve into André Leon Talley's personal world, with a diverse array of items  that includes everything from fine art to decorative pieces, each telling a story about his life and passions. Whether you’re an intimate fan of Talley’s work or an up and coming fashion guru yourself, there are lots in this collection that are sure to give you goosebumps with their unclockable precision of taste. 

What everyone wants to see, of course, are the fashions.

To highlight a few noteworthy pieces, there are the Gianni Versace Silver Oroton Metal Mesh Vest and Pants [Lot 196], and a Ralph Rucci Custom Black and Silver Evening Kimono [Lot 185]. Delve deeper into the garment collection for a surprising amount of taffeta and the expected number of caftans. A standout, for its vibrant hue, is the Chado Ralph Rucci Silk Gazar Chartreuse Caftan [Lot 184] which André wore to attend Lee Daniels' "The Butler" New York premiere, with Anna Wintour, hosted by TWC, DeLeon Tequila and Samsung Galaxy on August 5, 2013 in New York.

Giving attention to the numerous accessories, find lots of designer handbags, hats, and jewelry. Take special notice of the selections of cufflinks, which are everything from Neo-Punk and Vivian Westwood Skull and Crossbones [Lots 105, 103] to Louis Vuitton Cultured Pearl [Lot 111] with plenty of playful forms in between. 

The Balenciaga Ochre Crocodile Motocross Work Bag [Lot 18], described as ‘Large scale, impressive’ is a pop of color standout with some loving wear compared to the classic Prada Grey Leather Hand Bag [Lot 16], which was never used. A favorite for its unmistakable character, that would surely make its wearer a ‘main character’, is the Vivienne Westwood Red Straw Mountain Hat [Lot 143].


While there are plenty of whimsical plays on color and shape, there is no shortage of jet black, sculptural, even gothic influences. This overlays from Talley’s wearables onto his furnishings and decorative accents. 

Take for example the Victorian Neo-Gothic Carved Mahogany and Velvet Throne Chair [Lot 38] which has an imposing regality and this Pair of Large Black Lacquer Shellback Armchairs with Needlework Griffin Pillows[Lot 3] with a modern twist on a medieval theme. There is reference, juxtaposition, and this overstuffed sofa [Lot 8] which brings to mind the one Picasso painted Gertrude Stein seated upon. 


If there exists within everyone a capacity for artistic expression, whether it is fashion, performance, or imaginative creation of any kind, surely it comes as no surprise that someone as visionary as André had his own flair for fine art and at one point a studio practice. Find among the many pieces of fine art, photos, prints, and paintings in the catalog, an original oil on canvas from 1968 titled “Mood Subjonctif”[Lot 289]. 

André Leon Talley's impact on the worlds of fashion and culture is immeasurable, and his legacy lives on through his work, his influence, and now, his personal collection. 

The forthcoming auction by Stair Galleries provides a rare chance to own a piece of this legacy and to celebrate the life of a man who forever changed the face of fashion. 

As the bidding commences on September 21, art, fashion, and history enthusiasts alike will undoubtedly come together to pay homage to this remarkable individual who left an indelible mark on the world.

Click here to view the full catalog of “The Collection of André Leon Talley” on September 21, 2023.

Don't have a Bidsquare account? Sign up here!

Be in the know about upcoming auctions and exciting post-sale results by following us on Facebook and Instagram.