Supermodel Stella Tennant’s sudden death aged 50 rocked the fashion industry overnight, with designers, models, makeup artists and photographers turning out en masse to pay their tributes to the legend. Tennant skyrocketed onto the world stage in the early ’90s, initially courting the fashion world’s interest thanks to her impressive lineage (her parents are aristocrats and her grandmother was Deborah Mitford, the youngest of the famous Mitford sisters).
But she quickly asserted herself as one of the most dominant and engaging faces of her generation and became a muse to designers as disparate as Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, Helmut Lang, and Gianni Versace. Her often-discussed androgynous beauty was a cornerstone of the elegant minimalism that defined the nineties, though she continued to inspire designers for decades after that. In 2019 she walked for Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and Burberry and appeared on multiple Vogue covers—a feat for a woman aged 49, working in a notoriously ageist industry.
Tennant is survived by her husband and four children, and is unanimously remembered as a class act—a person of kindness and substance, who created images that will define her generation. Here, the fashion industry’s most touching tributes.
“From the first time I met Stella I was completely blown away. Her beauty, style and body language combined with her manners, kindness, sense of humor and personality were like no other. We had so many adventures, shared flights, fun nights, shows and ads together over the years. My condolences to David and her family. What a terrible, heartbreaking loss. Rest In Peace dear Stella.”
“I’m utterly speechless, it’s such heartbreaking news. My thoughts are with David, Marcel, Cecily, Jasmine and Iris and your extended friends and family. You will be so deeply missed. You inspired so many, I admired you profoundly. So many memories. It doesn’t feel real.”
“Stella, I cannot believe you are gone. You have left us way too soon. We met when you were at the beginning of your career. I cherish every moment we spent together. Ciao. Rest In Peace. Donatella.”
“STELLA TENNANT CLASS ACT IN EVERYWAY Humble, loyal, balanced practical, a rare beauty inside and out, you were one of the goods ones never any love lost when we would see each other always picked up from where we left off. Effortless and the epitome of Grace, even when you would sit in a corner doing your needle point. Timeless Angel amongst us. my deepest condolences to your beautiful children family and loved ones. ICON YOU WILL ALWAYS BE. R.I.P”
“my beloved stella. i don’t know why you had to leave us, but our love will be eternal. i am deeply heartbroken, in shock, and at a total loss for grand words. the 26 years with you as kindred spirits i will treasure forever. you were my friend, family, and muse. all about you will always be with me. my thoughts and prayers are with your family. stella in my studio for her final wedding dress fitting in 1999 with her favorite flowers—lilies of the valley.”
“I was fortunate to know, love and work with the brilliant #StellaTennant. The wondrous Stella who I first met at the beginning of our careers in the 90’s was terrifically kind, hysterically funny and beyond divine. I send my deepest condolences to Stella’s family and friends. -Pat xx”
“I LOVE you Stella. Sleep tight.”
“Rest in peace darling Stella”
“My darling Stella, I fucking love you and 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. x Stella”
Christy Turlington Burns
“What more can I say that hasn’t already been said since the deeply sad news of Stella Tennant’s passing earlier today? Carolyn Murphy recently posted this 50th anniversary of Italian Vogue cover which prompted many memories of past shoots and interactions with all of these amazing women throughout the years. I remember meeting Stella in London in the early 90’s. We were dressing next to each other backstage at a show. She was so beautiful and gentle, naked except for her nose piercing and big black boots. I remember her easy laugh and humble strength. Later, after Stella had become a mother she would beam talking about the kids and the farm and her other “quiet” life. Stella evolved in front of all of our eyes in the most beautiful, relaxed and confident way. I never imagined there was anything she couldn’t do. You are deeply admired, respected and will be missed by everyone you touched in this lifetime. Sending love to you all.”
“Stella Tenant, gone too soon 💔 I always admired her fearlessness and style. Sending prayers to her family.”
“For the good times. I’ve been searching through our times together just to see your face, remembering the fun and laughter. You allowed us to dress you up and down, never complaining, always bringing your own inimitable style and class to every shoot. Devastating news at the end of an awful year, but you’ll never be forgotten dear Stella.”
“STELLA 💔 My heart hurts so much for your family and all who love you. I will be praying for all. Your elegance, humility, humor, wit and beauty will always be with us. Rest In Peace friend.”
“Stella…grace, wit, rebellious elegance, strength, no bullshit, one of a kind, soulful kindness…nurturing, mother, daughter, wife and friend. I’ll hold our naughty nights in Europe close to my heart, guttural belly laughs, and beer. We had a shared love of good old things, especially taxidermy, houses, bugs and books; quiet life and the countryside. Our unforgettable road trip in the RV with Mark Borthwick and gang, shitty American motels and food, but we made beautiful pictures, in the middle of nowhere there and everywhere. You were authentic to yourself, always; and an inspiration to all, always. Anyone who wears chunky socks with Birkenstock’s, you can thank Stella for that trend. I will miss you and love you forever my friend.”
“R.I.P. dearest Stella. Our sincerest thoughts go to the family.”
“Stella. Forever. Stella was an absolute and unique example of how elegance belongs to the soul. She shined from within and I will miss her astonishing presence and the magic she could create just by standing there. We have lost a very special human being.”
“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. This photo is of her opening my first show back at London Fashion Week in 2018, to celebrate my 10th anniversary. It was a huge privilege to have her there and meant so much to me, I just loved everything about her. My thoughts are with her family”