The death of fashion icon and Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley shocked the world and now stories are emerging of his final days that paint the picture of a once social character who had become so secluded for fear of COVID-19 that he barely spoke to his neighbors, according to a new report.
"Larger than life" is how most remember Talley. While on the surface the description appears to be based on his size (he stood at 6-feet-6 inches tall), many use it to describe his personality. So it was sad for one of his neighbors, Barbara Galella, when Talley stopped going out and grew increasingly secluded.
Speaking with the Daily Mail, she recalled a day six months ago when she stopped by to drop off a book. Talley went to the door but would not open it, she recalled.
"He was very cautious about COVID," Galella said. "He had the mask on and just said 'leave the book on the porch.' So I did. That's why I'm surprised to read that's how he passed."
Initial reports revealed that Talley had died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack but a close friend later told the Houston Chronicle that the fashion icon had died from complications from coronavirus. He likely suffered from underlying heath conditions as well, it was reported.
Galella said she first saw paramedics pull up to Talley's house earlier this month.
"Three weeks ago, I just happened to be sitting there and I saw an EMS truck and the police, and then another car coming, and saw them all go in," she said. "I said I wonder if he had a heart attack or something. And then I was looking to see if anything was in the paper and didn't see anything."
When Galella saw them again earlier this week, she feared the worst.
"Then just a couple days ago, I saw EMS, the police show up again," she continued. "And I said have a feeling something may have happened because that's twice."
Tony Aliaj, the manager of City Limits Diner remembered Talley prior to the pandemic, when he would dine there often.
"He was larger than life," he said. "You couldn't miss him, that's for sure."
Talley's friend, Darren Walker, who is the president of the Ford Foundation, also remembered him as an outgoing person who was passionate about fashion.
"André Leon Talley was a singular force in an industry that he had to fight to be recognized in," Walker said, according to The New York Times, adding that Talley was a "creative genius" who was capable of shaping a persona for himself out of a "a deep academic understanding of fashion and design."
The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, the pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where Talley was a regular, added that he was known for his serious faith.
"With all his celebrity and globe-trotting, he came in the best of times, and he showed up in the worst of times," he said. "He showed up to worship. He supported the church, he gave generously, and his friends loved him."
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