André Leon Talley named artistic director of Zappos Couture, after leaving American Vogue

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André Leon Talley has quietly exited American Vogue, where he has held various editor positions for more than three decades, and entered an editorial partnership with Zappos Couture.

“The digital universe is a new, exciting opportunity for me to reach a broad audience in terms of the global luxury market,” Talley told WWD, also stating that he wants to “create something unique, in terms of a Web magazine within the Zappos Couture Web site, that conveys the immediacy and excitement of luxury retail products, season by season.”

Zappos Couture is the high-end arm of the Amazon.com-owned Zappos.com company.

Details of the designer fashion deal

Women’s Wear Daily reports that the year-long deal between the fashion tastemaker and the online retailer — best known for its offerings of discounted shoes — is an effort to make its Zappos Couture category more appealing to both consumers and luxury brands.

Talley will be in charge of creating editorial content for Zappos Couture as its artistic director, but the company also hopes to attract fashion loyalists and improve relationships with labels who have yet to sell with Zappos Couture.

“Luckily, Talley seems like just the man to make this high-fashion element an integral part of Zappos’ DNA,” reports The Huffington Post about the move. “He certainly has a lot of free time since leaving Vogue last year and taking up an editor-at-large position for Numéro Russia.”

Currently, Zappos Couture features only a handful of well-known brands, mostly fragrances and accessories, and little apparel. Talley may be able to help expand these offerings.

Talley won’t be selling, just creating

Yet, the partners in this deal have stated that Talley will not be involved in selling or merchandising products in any capacity.

Writing for Jezebel.com, Kate Dries is skeptical that a firm line between creative work and advertorial will be maintained, stating, “to pretend that the line between editorial and sales in fashion is clear at all is ignoring the entire industry’s driving force: to make money from selling clothes.”

But not every style watcher is so critical. Vanessa Golembewski at Refinery29 offers by contrast, “we’re beyond excited that two of our favorite entities — Talley and Zappos — will be under one, albeit digital, roof.”

When technology, fashion and black icons converge

Ironically, rapper and fashion enthusiast Kanye West made headlines recently by bashing Zappos for selling “sh*t” products. While its unclear exactly what he meant by that, we can likely safely assume that the music artist does not see the emporium as offering items that meet his refined tastes.

Yes, for the most part the e-commerce site is beloved for being something akin to the T.J. Maxx of shoes. But with its Zappos Couture effort, and André Leon Talley behind it, it might evolve into a destination that meets West’s exacting tastes.

West himself is working to develop a technology-based fashion entity called DONDA that he says will “disrupt” all of fashion — while the venture has yet to secure significant venture capital funding.

It will be interesting to see how two of the biggest African-American luminaries from the creative world will impact the unique intersection of style and technology. For now, Talley has a leg up on West, as Zappos is incredibly successful, and Zappos Couture already exists.

Let’s see if Zappos Couture becomes the next Net-A-Porter, or Bluefly.

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter @lexisb.