Stella Tennant killed herself after struggling with mental health problems, her family have revealed.
The model was found dead at her home in Scotland on 22 December, a few days after her 50th birthday.
In a statement to the Telegraph, her family said she had been “unwell for some time”.
They said: “We have been humbled by the outpouring of messages of sympathy and support since Stella died. She was a beautiful soul, adored by a close family and good friends, a sensitive and talented woman whose creativity, intelligence and humour touched so many.
“Stella had been unwell for some time. So it is a matter of our deepest sorrow and despair that she felt unable to go on, despite the love of those closest to her. In grieving Stella’s loss, her family renews a heartfelt request that respect for their privacy should continue.”
The Scottish authorities initially investigated Tennant’s death through the Fatalities Investigation Unit until it became clear she had killed herself.
A source quoted by the Telegraph said the family wanted to make the news public because “they feel it’s important to raise awareness around mental health, as far too often it is misunderstood”.
A granddaughter of Deborah Mitford, later the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Tennant was initially part of a wave of “aristo” models – including Honor Fraser, Plum Sykes and Lady Louise Campbell – in the 90s. Photographed for British Vogue by Steven Meisel in 1993, for a shoot styled by Isabella Blow, she wore a nose ring, eyeliner and punk jumper. Her look chimed with the decade’s androgynous cool.
Tennant, who first trained as a sculptor after completing a degree at Winchester School of Art, was unsure about modelling at first but she soon became one of the most sought-after names. Championed by Meisel, she modelled for brands including Chanel and Versace, and appeared on the covers of magazines ranging from Vogue to i-D.
The model married the photographer David Lasnet in 1999, after meeting him on a shoot. The couple then moved to an 18th-century house on the Scottish borders, where – between modelling jobs – Tennant grew her own vegetables and raised four children, Marcel, Cecily, Jasmine and Iris, now in their teens and early twenties. Tennant and Lasnet – who retrained as an osteopath – separated in August after more than 20 years together.
Like her fellow supermodel Kate Moss, Tennant remained much in demand. She appeared on the cover of Vogue in 2018 and still modelled on the catwalk – opening the Valentino couture show in January 2020.
The model was much loved in the industry. When the news of her death was announced, big names took to social media. On Instagram, Edward Enninful, the editor of Vogue, posted three images of Tennant that he worked on in the 90s. “Thank you for always being an inspiration,” he wrote. Linda Evangelista posted an image of the two models in the 90s, on what she said was Tennant’s second modelling job. “That was the day I found out I wasn’t cool,” wrote Evangelista. “I had just met the coolest person I would ever meet.”
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.