Diane von Furstenberg Archives
Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE, von Furstenberg, 75, opens up about one of the most "magical" moments she and the late fashion editor shared together: attending the history-making Inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.
"When Obama got elected I invited André to come with me to the Inauguration, that was one of our best souvenirs. That was a very special moment for everyone, especially for him. It was a magical, magical moment," she says, adding that she "never realized how famous" Talley was until the pair walked the streets of Washington D.C. together.
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"People LOVE him. He was a big, big star," she continues, adding that Talley was "always on the pulse of the moment" working with legendary artists, like Andy Warhol, as well as some of the most well-known names in fashion journalism, including famed editors Anna Wintour and Diana Vreeland – who von Furstenberg says was one of the most important women in his life aside from his grandmother.
"André was a big deal," von Furstenberg explains. "He had many friends in many different worlds. He was bigger than life, and I expect him to get bigger. I think he's going to become a bigger star —bigger than ever. He deserves to be."
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Not only did von Furstenberg reflect on her favorite "souvenir" moment with Talley and his impressive career, the iconic designer also reflected on the boundary-breaking impact The Chiffon Trenches author had as a Black man in the fashion industry.
RELATED VIDEO: Fashion Icon and Former Vogue Creative Director André Leon Talley Dead at 73
"He was a role model and he started so many things and championed diversity," von Furstenburg tells PEOPLE. "He was quite remarkable in every way. He had such a wonderful joie de vivre. He was extraordinary and he was so grand and so elegant and it was completely innate."
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von Furstenberg also commemorated Talley's incredible sense of style, fondly reminiscing about the time they were at famed Paris restaurant and club, Maxim's, on a Friday night in the '80s — which required a black tie dress code that Talley put his own unique spin on.
"I remember him coming to dinner on Friday night, and instead of wearing black tie, he wore a black cashmere robe over a shirt with a bowtie," she says. "But he looked so elegant and so wonderful."
"This was in the mid '80s," she continues, touching on how Talley's outfit that night served as inspiration for her and other designers. "We later all made kaftans for him. I made lots of kaftans in my prints for him. And every designer made kaftans for him."
von Furstenberg was one of the first to share the news of Talley's death, taking to Instagram to also share a tribute with fans.
"Good bye darling André ❤️🙏…," she began her post honoring his life. "No one saw the world in a more elegant and glamorous way than you did ❤️🙏… no one was more soulful and grander than you were ❤️🙏…the world will be less joyful now ❤️🙏 I have loved you and laughed with you for 45 years…. I will miss your loud screams and your loyal friendship…I love you soooo much ❤️🙏