British supermodel Stella Tennant dies suddenly at the age of 50

3 weeks ago

British supermodel Stella Tennant has died suddenly at the age of 50, her family has confirmed.

Paying tribute, they 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.”

(L-R): British models Stella Tennant, Lily Cole, Karen Elson, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Jourdon Dunn and David Gandy perform at the Olympic stadium during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games in London on August 12, 2012
Image: (L-R): British models Stella Tennant, Lily Cole, Karen Elson, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and David Gandy on stage during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games

Gianni Versace with model Stella Tennant wearing a wedding dress, on January 20, 1996 in Paris
Image: Pictured with Gianni Versace in Paris in 1996

Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced at a later date, they added.

Tennant lived in Duns, a town in the Scottish borders, and died on Tuesday, five days after her 50th birthday.

In a statement, a Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers were called to an address in Duns around 11.30am on Tuesday 22 December following the sudden death of a 50-year-old woman.

“Her next of kin have been made aware. There are no suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

Kate Moss’ official instagram page posted a photo of the supermodels together on a magazine cover, with the words: “Rest In Peace, darling Stella”.

In another instagram post, Victoria Beckham wrote: “So saddened to hear the devastating news about Stella Tennant. She was an incredible talent and someone I had so much admiration and respect for… I just loved everything about her. My thoughts are with her family.”

Fashion designer Stella McCartney wrote on social media that she loves her “darling Stella,” adding: “I will miss you so, so terribly. 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 exceeded the external perfection, Stella. May you ride high above us all on the most perfect horse, eternally in peace.”

Tennant’s modelling career started in 1993 at the age of 23, with a shoot for the December issue of British Vogue, and she went on to walk catwalks for designers including Gianni Versace, Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander McQueen.

The granddaughter of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, Andrew Cavendish, and Deborah Mitford, she was known as an aristocratic supermodel, and was among the models representing the British fashion industry during the closing ceremony on the final day of the London 2012 Olympics – alongside the likes of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and David Gandy.

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (R) and British model Stella Tennant pictured during the Chanel Metiers d'Art Pre-Fall collection show, entitled "Paris-Bombay" on December 6, 2011 in Paris
Image: With Karl Lagerfeld in Paris in 2011 – the designer named her the face of Chanel in the late 1990s

Models Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Stella Tennant, Natalia Vodianova and Nadja Auermann attend "The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2009 in New York
Image: (L-R): Models Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Stella Tennant, Natalia Vodianova and Nadja Auermann attend The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion gala in New York in 2009

She posed for magazines such as French, British and Italian Vogue, as well as Harper’s Bazaar, several times throughout her career, and most recently graced the cover of British Vogue in December 2018. In tribute, the fashion magazine republished an essay she wrote to accompany her cover, revisiting the portraits that launched her career.

“Few models have had as sizeable an impact on British fashion,” the magazine said.

In the late 1990s, Lagerfeld announced Tennant as the new face of Chanel and she became a muse for the designer, which he attributed to her resemblance to Coco Chanel. She also appeared in numerous advertising campaigns for big fashion brands over the years, including for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Hermes, and Burberry.

The New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman was also among those paying tribute, writing on Twitter: “Stella Tennant, the coolest of the aristo-models, has died. I’ll never forget seeing her walk in Helmut Lang shows. She defined off-hand chic.”

In June 2012, Tennant was inducted as Model of the Year in the Scottish Fashion Awards Hall of Fame.

She married French-born photographer David Lasnet in the small parish church of Oxnam in the Scottish Borders in 1999, and they had four children together.

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