Model Stella Tennant dies aged 50

Family announce ‘sudden death’ and ask for privacy

The model Stella Tennant has died, five days after her 50th birthday on 17 December. According to police, there were no suspicious circumstances around her death.

Her family said in a statement: “It is with great sadness we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant on 22 December 2020.

“Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed.

“Her family ask for their privacy to be respected. Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced at a later date.”

The fashion industry has been paying tribute to Tennant. Stella McCartney wrote on Instagram: “What sad, horrific news to end this already shocking year … My heart goes out to your stunning family who must be in such undeserving pain. I am speechless … Rest in peace, you inspiring woman. Your soul and inner beauty exceed the external perfection, Stella. May you ride high above us all on the most perfect horse, eternally in peace.”

Donatella Versace wrote: “I cannot believe you are gone … I cherish every moment we spent together.”

British Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful, posted a tribute to the “kind and wonderful” model.

Stella Tennant walks with designer Karl Lagerfeld during the Metiers D’Art show for Chanel in Paris, 2011.
Stella Tennant walks with designer Karl Lagerfeld during the Metiers D’Art show for Chanel in Paris, 2011. Photograph: Benoît Tessier/Reuters

Tennant was one of the original 1990s supermodels who, alongside Kate Moss and Erin O’Connor, introduced an era of androgyny on the catwalk.

With her pixie haircut and statuesque frame Tennant became a muse and favourite to designers across the decades including Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquière, Riccardo Tisci and Victoria Beckham. She also appeared in several high-profile advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein and Hermès.

Tennant, who was the granddaughter of Andrew Cavendish, the 11th Duke of Devonshire and Deborah Mitford, was scouted by the photographer Steven Meisel for her first British Vogue shoot in 1993.

The grunge-influenced photos were considered controversial at the time (Tennant had a nose ring in the pictures) and kickstarted her long career in fashion. But she had a certain reluctance about the industry. “After the Vogue shoot, he [Meisel] asked me to go to Paris and shoot a Versace campaign,” she told the Evening Standard in 2016.

“Suddenly, it was a proper modelling job. And I didn’t really know if I wanted to open the door and see what was inside. You have an idea of what fashion is about, but I’d been at art school. I didn’t know if I wanted to be objectified. I thought it was a big, shallow world and I wasn’t really sure if I liked the look of it.”

Later in the decade, Lagerfeld made her the face of Chanel and put her on an exclusive modelling contract. It was said that she reminded the designer of Coco Chanel.

At the end of the 1990s, Tennant married David Lasnet. They met on a shoot in New York, where Lasnet was assisting the photographer. The couple had four children (Marcel, Cecily, Jasmine and Iris) together before splitting earlier this year. Tennant’s final British Vogue cover was in 2018, which was shot by Meisel.


Priya Elan

The GuardianTramp

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