Sudden farewell to the classiest model on the catwalk: Stella Tennant, born into aristocracy before becoming one of Britain's leading supermodels, has being found dead at 50

 


Supermodel Stella Tennant found dead aged 50 at her Scottish Borders home

Came just months after splitting from her husband of 21 years David Lasnet

Her family praised her as a 'wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all'

The mother-of-four was known for androgynous looks during 1990s heyday.

A veteran supermodel, Stella Tennant has been found dead just months after separating from a husband of two decades.

 The fashion world is fickle but Stella Tennant was a rare survivor, striding down catwalks and smouldering from magazine covers for almost 30 years.

By the flighty and superficial standards of her industry, she seemed a beacon of substance: avoiding the party circuit, eschewing celebrity culture and refusing to have anything much to do with such social media fripperies as Instagram.

Married for more than two decades, she and her French photographer-turned-osteopath husband, David Lasnet, raised their four children not in London, Paris or New York, but in an 18th-century manor house in rural Scotland where they would swim in rivers, grow vegetables and walk in the hills.

'I need space. I need some of that freedom,' she once explained. 'I'd go nuts in a city.'

When a journalist inquired how the model — whose androgynous punk style belied her aristocratic roots — had ended up enjoying such a tweedy domestic life, David replied: 'Well, I think we want to make it work, you know? There's nothing better than growing old together. And it's very easy to destroy something.'

In August, it emerged that Stella had quietly separated from her husband some 21 years after they had married in the local church. And yesterday, news of her death was confirmed, just five days after her 50th birthday.

'It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant,' read a statement from her family.

'Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all.'

Police Scotland said officers had been called to an address near Duns, the village closest to her home, at 11.30am on Tuesday, adding: 'There are no suspicious circumstances'.

Neighbours were shocked at the news saying that, since the separation, David had seemingly moved to Edinburgh, where the couple had a mews house, and continued working as an osteopath while Stella had taken up riding.

'She was well liked, warm and friendly. The very opposite of a social butterfly, quite unstarry, and all the more popular in the community for it,' one of them said yesterday.

'I saw her recently out on her horse, and we had a good chat. She seemed well, but did say she was very worried about [the impact of] Covid [on fashion] because she thought it might mean she never worked again.

'She said that by the time people were allowed to travel again and the catwalk shows re-started, she would be regarded as too old. But that was the only thing that gave the impression she wasn't completely happy.'

Tributes poured in from all across the fashion world.

'My darling Stella, I f*****g love you and will miss you so, so terribly,' said designer Stella McCartney. 'What sad, horrific news to end this already shocking year.'

The fashion house Versace described her as 'Gianni Versace's muse for many years' and a 'friend of the family', saying: 'We will miss you for ever, Stella. Rest in peace'.

Former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman said she was mourning 'one of the loveliest people to work with and an exceptional beauty. And devoted mother'.

Stella Tennant is the third in her generation of British fashion mega-stars to have her life tragically cut short. Her friends the designer Alexander McQueen died in 2010 and fashion director Isabella Blow three years earlier — both took their own lives.

Her death also marks another sad footnote in the history of one of Britain's great aristocratic families.

Stella's father, the Hon Tobias William Tennant, was the son of the late 2nd Baron Glenconner. His late half-brother, Colin, bought the island of Mustique in 1958 turning it into a favourite destination of the celebrity jet set, most notably his close friend Princess Margaret, before leaving a huge chunk of his fortune to a local manservant.

Stella's mother was Lady Emma Cavendish, daughter of Andrew Cavendish, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, whose seat is the famous Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, while her maternal grandmother was Deborah Mitford, the youngest of the Mitford sisters, who died in 2014.

A great-uncle was Stephen Tennant, a bright young thing in the Twenties, who was a friend and subject of the photographer Cecil Beaton, the lover of the poet Siegfried Sassoon and part inspiration for the character Sebastian Flyte, the doomed young aristocrat in Brideshead Revisited.

Perhaps understandably, given her blue-blooded pedigree, Stella never set out to pursue a catwalk career, and despite her enormous success never seemed hugely fond of it either.

'I'd hate to be known as another toff who's gone into modelling,' she once said. 'Modelling is something which might enable me to do what I really want.'

Born in London, she grew up on a 1,500-acre sheep farm in the Borders and after attending the prestigious St Leonards School for Girls in St Andrews, went to study sculpture at Winchester Art College, where she acquired a nose ring. For her 21st birthday, she was given a welding torch.



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