“It is with great sadness we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant on 22 December 2020,” the statement read. “Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed.”
Stella Tennant, seen here in 2011, was a muse of Karl Lagerfeld, the late head of Chanel. Credit: Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
For all the edge she brought to editorial fashion, designers adored her. She was a muse to fashion luminaries like Helmut Lang, whose shows she described among her favorites to walk in, and the late Karl Lagerfeld when he headed Chanel. She continued to appear on runways until early this year, when she walked for Valentino for Paris Fashion Week.
A 1993 British Vogue feature called “London Girls” proved to be her big break. Tennant, her eyes ringed by heavy black eyeliner, wore an Alexander McQueen dress and a subversive septum piercing. Surrounded by experienced models, the 22-year-old was asked at the shoot to appear in an ad for Versace.
“I’ve given it everything, all my energy and time, and now we’re going to go off and have a family together,” she told fashion publication the Document Journal in 2018. “And I thought that was me signing out.”
When fashion magazines started to prefer a more traditionally glamorous look for models in the 2000s, Tennant said she felt her spotlight was shrinking.
“The agency didn’t really know what to do with me,” she remembered. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s not a surprise. I’ve had my little moment, and fashion’s moved on, and I’ll be moving along, too.'”
The fashion world mourns
Tennant’s frequent costars and collaborators mourned her passing online.
“When we would see each other always picked up from where we left off,” she wrote. “Effortless and the epitome of Grace, even when you would sit in a corner doing your needle point.
This Sunday Aug. 12, 2012 photo shows models, from left, Lily Cole, Karen Elson, Stella Tennant, Kate Moss, Lily Donaldson, Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Georgia May Jagger walking with male model David Gandy during the Closing Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Tennant, the aristocratic British model who was a muse to designers including Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace, has died suddenly at the age of 50, her family said Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. The family asked for their privacy to be respected and said Tennant was “a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all.” Police Scotland said there were no suspicious circumstances. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File) Credit: Alastair Grant/AP
With Tennant’s death, fashion has lost one of its favorite nonconformists.