Nine months after André Leon Talley’s death, the pioneering journalist will have the Westchester County, New York, street that he lived on named in his honor Wednesday.
The town of Greenburgh, New York, will honor Talley with a dedication ceremony and a proclamation, declaring Wednesday André Leon Talley Day. The former Vogue creative director died at age 73 in January.
The street sign unveiling is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the hamlet of Greenburgh at the corner of Worthington Road and Saw Mill Road (also known as Route 9A). An hour later, a reception will be held at Talley’s favorite local restaurant, the City Limits Diner in White Plains, where turkey chili and some of his other favorite menu choices will be served. Diane von Furstenberg, Bethann Hardison, Marc Jacobs, B. Michael, actress and producer Toni Belafonte and musician Valerie Simpson are among the guests expected to attend. News of André Leon Talley Day will be flashed on the Jumbotron outside of the Westchester County Center.
Interestingly, while Talley’s name will live on in a street sign, his $1 million home was once a point of great consternation to him. In 2021, he became embroiled in a legal battle with his longtime friend George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis, whom Talley claimed had purchased the 11-room house in White Plains on his behalf. The couple, in turn, alleged that Talley had fallen behind in his rent payments by “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” and Talley was potentially facing eviction.
After Talley’s death earlier this year, his former attorney and Yurgaitis’ both confirmed that the legal dispute had been settled prior to his passing.
Talley’s friend of 50 years, von Furstenberg, said Tuesday, “It is such a victory. The idea that he was afraid to be evicted and now the street bears his name in less than a year. How amazing is that? Obviously, I had nothing to do with it but nothing could make me happier. Nothing. It was such a vengeance.”
What von Furstenberg did have to do with, although she graciously (and firmly) preferred not to spell out, was to ensure that Talley remained in his house. “Over my dead body he was going to be evicted. That’s all I know. I had known him since 1973 or 1974. He was a very close friend of mine. I love him. I met him when he was working for Interview magazine, so I have known him since he was a very young guy and we became very good friends. We were intimate friends. And let me tell you, he has a lot of friends.”
Contrary to reports that Talley had retreated somewhat prior to his death, von Furstenberg presented a different perspective. She said she was glad that prior to his death, “He had dignity. He was getting work. He was happy. And then he got COVID-19 and unfortunately he died. But he did not die miserable.”
The designer said of her involvement. “I just did not want him to be evicted. Period. How I did it is no one’s business really. But I certainly made sure that he was not evicted and that he could stay in his house forever,” she said. “The idea that now [the street will be named for him] fills my heart.”
Now his name will live on through the soon-to-be-updated Worthington Road street sign. Talley’s former attorney Erik Weinick said, “This is a recognition that André’s impact was not just global. It was local as well. It’s nice that his local community is recognizing him in this fashion. It will stand as a reminder of his life for a long time to come.”
While some of Talley’s personal belongings are still in the Westchester County house that he resided in, the property is unoccupied. It was not immediately known when the property is expected to be sold.
How the tribute came about was through pure serendipity and Talley’s personality. Reached in the Greenburgh town clerk’s office Tuesday morning, Azline Suber said she had flown into New York from Biloxi, Mississippi, to attend a church service and then went to City Limits Diner in White Plains. “I had on this beautiful dress and I heard somebody say, ‘Fabulous. Fabulous.’ I looked around and I said to my then-fiancé, ‘Who is that?’ He said, ‘That’s André Leon Talley.’ I made a turn and he said, ‘Come, come.’ I went over to talk to him. He said, ‘Let’s take a picture,'” Suber recalled.
When she heard that Talley had died in late January, Suber said she got “very emotional,” despite having only met him that one time at the diner, and “talked to the Lord. He told me what to do.”
So Suber had a plaque engraved for Talley and had that installed at City Limits. That was also where she met the town clerk Judy Beville and invited her to the dedication ceremony on March 23 in the diner’s bar area. After that reception, Suber suggested doing a commemorative street sign.
Beville said Suber explained to town officials how Talley had become an iconic figure in the fashion industry, working his way up to becoming the first African American editor at Vogue, despite having had a rough upbringing at times.