Michael Roberts, the author, editor, stylist, and photographer greatest recognized for his influential tenures as the style and elegance director of Vainness Truthful journal and the style editor of the New Yorker, died on Monday morning on the age of 75, a detailed pal has confirmed. “It’s with one very heavy coronary heart that we’ve to announce the loss of life of our beloved pal Michael,” they wrote. “He died peacefully, early on Monday morning, at his dwelling on the island of Sicily.”

All through his wide-ranging five-decade profession, Roberts formed the course of vogue by way of phrases, photographs, and illustrations, together with his physique of labor serving as a unprecedented doc of the trade’s ever-changing panorama. Identified for his shut working relationship with the Vainness Truthful editor Tina Brown—who went on to introduce Roberts to readers of the New Yorker in 1997 as “the Jean Cocteau of the style world”—Roberts’s maverick skills noticed him rise to change into one of many trade’s most revered authorities, whilst he moved away from styling and writing to discover different inventive avenues in his later profession. In 2022, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for companies to vogue as a part of the Queen’s New Yr Honors. 

Illustration by Michael Roberts, Vainness Truthful, April 2009

Born in Buckinghamshire in 1948 to a father from St. Lucia and an English mom, Roberts’s unconventional schooling started when he was despatched off to boarding faculty after his father died in 1960. He then moved on to check superb artwork and graphic design at an artwork faculty in Excessive Wycombe, earlier than ultimately transferring to the style division. Whereas nonetheless in school, he gained an illustration prize sponsored by an promoting company that allowed him to journey to New York, the place he met Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon, and had his work printed for the primary time in Girls’s Put on Day by day.

Quickly after graduating, Roberts went on to help the celebrated vogue editor Molly Parkin on the progressive vogue title Nova earlier than transferring together with her to London’s Sunday Occasions in 1969. There, he shortly gained consideration for his frank and viciously humorous column on the style trade, approaching the rarefied world of fashion by way of a subversive New Journalism lens. (“Saint Laurent calls his slender look the tube; Karl Lagerfeld calls his the tunnel; I can see no mild on the finish of it,” he as soon as wrote.) 

After assembly Tina Brown by way of her husband, the long-serving Sunday Occasions editor Harold Evans, Roberts was invited to hitch her as model and artwork director when she took over Tatler journal in 1979. The pair made waves with their daring vogue tales, reworking the excessive society bible into one thing altogether edgier. In considered one of Roberts’s most well-known covers, for the April 1989 subject, he photographed and styled Vivienne Westwood—the godmother of punk herself—to seem as Margaret Thatcher. Roberts additionally recurrently collaborated with cutting-edge vogue skills, together with Judy Blame and Isabella Blow, inside its pages. 

In 1984, when Brown decamped to New York to edit Vainness Truthful, Roberts adopted, and so they continued their pioneering work with a splashy debut cowl that includes a Helmut Newton picture of Daryl Hannah blindfolded and clutching two Oscars, earlier than occurring to run every little thing from lavish vogue specials impressed by the L.A. Olympic Video games to Brideshead Revisited, in addition to covers with Raquel Welch and Joan Collins. It was round this time that Roberts additionally started venturing additional into pictures and filmmaking, notably directing the music video for Bryan Ferry’s 1988 single “Limbo,” profitable himself an MTV Award for greatest breakthrough video.

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