Stella Tennant, the unimpeachably aristocratic mannequin and inspiration to designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace, died on Tuesday. She was 50.
Her demise was introduced by her household, which didn’t present a trigger. Police experiences famous no suspicious circumstances surrounding her demise, in response to the BBC.
The granddaughter of Andrew Cavendish, the 11th Duke of Devonshire and Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, the youngest of the Mitford sisters, Ms. Tennant was instantly descended from Bess of Hardwick, builder of the opulent Elizabethan manor, Hardwick Hall, and as soon as reputed to be the richest lady in England.
Ms. Tennant wore her rarefied heritage flippantly all through her three-decade run in style, throughout which she walked the runways for many main style designers; was featured in promoting campaigns for practically each vital label; appeared on scores of journal covers; and labored with a full roster of the world’s elite photographers, editors, make-up artists and stylists.
Along with Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, Ms. Tennant was chosen to symbolize English style at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. In the late 1990s, Karl Lagerfeld signed her to an unique contract because the face of Chanel. In doing so, Mr. Lagerfeld famous the very English Ms. Tennant’s likeness to the incomparably Gallic founding father of the fabled home.
It was a fantastic assertion by any normal, on condition that Coco Chanel was brief and higher recognized for her model than her appears to be like, whereas Ms. Tennant stood practically six ft, had crisply common options and retained into maturity the “limpid blue eyes” her grandmother Deborah Devonshire first famous in a letter to the Anglo-Irish author Patrick Leigh Fermor when Ms. Tennant was in diapers.
What the 2 girls did have in frequent, although, was a component of androgyny. Ms. Tennant’s brushy haircut, alongside together with her boyish cool (and a punk septum piercing), caught the eye of the photographer Steven Meisel within the early 1990s. After turning up at a casting name the photographer despatched out for unknowns, Ms. Tennant discovered her face featured on the quilt of Italian Vogue.
She quickly discovered favor with designers throughout the spectrum, from New York indies to the famend couturiers of Europe.
“Steven Meisel sent Stella for a go-see to my design studio, and I immediately cast her in my spring ’94 show as an aristocratic punk princess,” the designer Anna Sui stated. “She was so elegant and had the prettiness and androgyny of an Elizabeth Peyton drawing. Plus, there was that posh accent and the defiance of the nose ring.”
Ms. Tennant’s offhand ease with duality — significantly of sophistication and gender — stored her in demand all through the many years with designers like Valentino Garavani, Alber Elbaz, Giorgio Armani, Marc Jacobs, and Gianni Versace (whose household, in a press release on Tuesday, known as her the late designer’s “muse”). If they admired her magnificence, designers additionally banked on her capability to embody a number of style archetypes.
“She was equally beautiful in a tuxedo or a chiffon dress,” stated Alber Elbaz, who solid Ms. Tennant to star in his first promoting marketing campaign for Yves Saint Laurent when he assumed design duties there in 1998 (and shortly after Ms. Tennant gave beginning to her first little one).
“She was not really a model,” he added. “She was a woman, a mother, English, aristocratic but with a golden heart.”
Stella Tennant was born in London on Dec. 17, 1970, the youngest of three kids of Lady Emma Cavendish and the Hon. Tobias William Tennant, son of the second Baron Glenconner, himself the youthful half brother of Colin Tennant, the rakehell favourite of Princess Margaret and the power behind the event of the Caribbean island of Mustique.
Raised on her household’s 1,500-acre sheep farm within the Scottish Borders, she attended St. Leonards School in St. Andrews and later Marlborough College within the English countryside. She was nonetheless a pupil at Winchester School of Art when she caught the attention of the style author Plum Sykes at British Vogue. When solid for a Steven Meisel shoot for a December 1993 Vogue UK subject titled “Anglo-Saxon Attitude,” she was already 23. Calculated in modeling enterprise canine years that’s virtually retirement age.
Yet her detachment and relative maturity served her properly in a enterprise infamous for flightiness and helium-hit extravagances of temperament.
“As soon as anyone mentioned her name, the reaction was always ‘I want her to be in my show,’” Mr. Elbaz stated. Asked why, he replied, “At the moment when you are at your most crazed and panicked, she was the one calming you down.”
And, whereas she was no stranger to grandeur in apparel (not each little one, in any case, is ready free to play gown up within the wardrobes of Chatsworth, the Derbyshire seat of the dukes of Devonshire), she had an class of spirit and perspective that was innate, in response to Pierpaolo Piccioli, the Valentino designer.
Just earlier than the world went into lockdown final winter, Mr. Piccioli solid Ms. Tennant for the coveted opening spot in his couture present. It would show to be her final.
“When she came for her fittings, she was so nice to everyone — not just me, but all the seamstresses, everyone,” Mr. Piccioli wrote in an e mail. “What she showed was that elegance is not just about physical attributes or a walk, but something inside. She had a grace that was impossible to copy or explain.”
She is survived by her husband, David Lasnet, a photographer and osteopath from whom she had separated in August after 21 years of marriage, and 4 kids, Iris, Jasmine, Cecily and Marcel.
Vanessa Friedman contributed further reporting.
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