Veteran designer Mercedes “Sadie” Soas is hailing late fashion icon and former creative director of Vogue André Leon Talley for his service to the industry.
Talley died on Tuesday, was battling an undisclosed illness at a hospital in White Plains, New York. He was 73.
Often dressed in sweeping capes, Talley was a highly visible regular in the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe for decades. At six feet six inches tall, he cut an imposing figure wherever he went.
“I met him once and we were working on a project. It was so long ago, I don't remember all the details. It was a project with JBDC (Jamaica Business Development Corporation). I knew he was very passionate about change. He was extremely passionate. That's what comes to my mind when I think of him,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Talley was also a familiar figure to TV audiences, serving as a judge on America's Top Model and appearing on Sex and the City and Empire.
Raised in Durham, North Carolina, Talley worked assorted jobs before arriving in New York in the 1970s, soon meeting Vreeland and striking up a friendship that lasted until her death in 1989.
Talley was Vogue magazine's fashion news director from 1983 to 1987; its first African-American male creative director from 1988 to 1995, and then its editor-at-large from 1998 to 2013.
Vogue is an American monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine. Based in New York City, it began as a weekly newspaper in 1892 before becoming a monthly magazine years later. Since starting up in 1892, Vogue has featured numerous actors, actresses, musicians, models, athletes, etc. The largest issue to be published by Vogue magazine was published in September 2012, containing 900 pages.
Two fashion designers of Jamaican descent were included on Vogue magazine's top-15 black designers to know about in 2020. Carly Cushnie and Aurora James, who is founder of Brother Vellies, both indicated that they relied on their Jamaican roots when conceptualising designs.
Soas said she was acquainted with Vogue for a period of time and is even considering collaborating with them on one of her upcoming projects.
“They used to touch base with me every now and again. I was searching the Internet the other day for some information on them. I have three brand-new lace dresses (designs) that I was thinking could go through them,” she said.
At the same time, Soas said she hopes more emerging fashion designers will be featured in Vogue.
“Where are the new designers? I saw an article in the Observer the other day about a young designer, and that was refreshing. She was saying she wanted to sell Brand Jamaica through her designs. I don't know of any Jamaican designer that has gone international, and I would like to see more of them on that level,” she said.
Soas operated from her home in Kingston for much of her life, before opening Sadie Soas Boutiques at the Montego Bay Racquet Club and Miranda Ridge Shopping Arcade in western Jamaica. The Poinciana Hotel in Negril also carried her designs in its boutique.
In 1988, Soas opened Finé Bouche, a boutique which operated in the New Kingston Shopping Centre.
Last year, Soas was conferred with an Order of Distinction (Commander Class) for her contribution to Jamaica's fashion industry.