Obella of Stella Tennant | fashion

No one in fashion could have guessed what would happen to the happy and cheerful health of the international supermodels who ran the catwalks and covers in the late 1980s and early 90s. The next big unexpected things turned out to be very particularly British: the helpless Kate Moss and the cold aristo Stella Tennant, who appeared on the pages of British Vogue in 1993. She died suddenly, shortly after her 50th birthday.

Tennant’s appeal was foreshadowed at the release that year of Sally Potter’s Virginia fantasy novel Orlando Woolf, his hero / heroine (nothing as simple as androgynous) played by Tilda Swinton; thin, tall, pale, unpainted pipe cleaner, with both male and female body language and an always expressionless smile. Totally Tennant.

At the time, Tennant herself was a graduate in sculpture from the Winchester School of Art, who, realizing she didn’t have enough to say to become an artist, tried and failed to monetize her nearly two meters in height and notable bones in modeling . She had a unique appearance since childhood – she cut her own shaggy black hedgehog hair, showed off the punk clothes her older sister sent from London and wore a nose ring. (Her father, a farmer, offered to take her around his corral

A friend had Tennant send passport photos to a British Vogue assistant, Plum Sykes, who then worked with stylist Isabella Blow on a photo shoot called Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, with the US grunge look modeled by some English roses. ruined-looking. Tennant was summoned to London for a holiday in the Highlands, traveled by sleeper train, arrived late at the location in Spitalfields, and was immediately identified as the newest face by the then hottest photographer, Steven Meisel, despite his face being obscured by ink black panda – as well as the nose ring.

Meisel and the Vogue team invited her to Paris the following week to model for a Versace campaign (Tennant recalled “I thought, well, OK, this looks like fun”), and a resulting photo of Meisel was on the cover of Vogue Italian. Tennant was expecting a lucrative six-month job – she was sincere about being a model for the money, earned by her sloppy stance, unattractive walking on the catwalk, free elbows and a calm face that was not meant to please. (In art college, she imitated the favorite photographer Cindy Sherman’s technique of posing as stereotypes and took them out of her system.)

Stella Tennant with Karl Lagerfeld in 2011.

Stella Tennant with Karl Lagerfeld in 2011. Photo: Benoît Tessier / Reuters

Tennant’s manners were so new that she soon had an agent, an apartment in New York and the unofficial record of having participated in the largest number of parades, 75, in one season. They were then the moneymakers, although Tennant worked without demanding supermodel awards just to get out of bed. She liked the small, close-knit teams from the 90s and learning from craft tests.

Karl Lagerfeld offered him more money in 1996, to replace Claudia Schiffer as Chanel’s slimmer face and body. Schiffer looked like an Amazon Brigitte Bardot, her breasts sticking out of her bra, and she mumbled about Tennant that being cool now meant chic heroin, looking like an addict. But Chanel’s Tennant gave up on grunge in addition to his spiky hairstyle Sam McKnight.

Lagerfeld had cunningly seen her as a resemblance to the young Coco Chanel, who wore real men’s clothing for sports and entertainment, underestimating her femininity. He also liked Tennant’s emphatic rooting in Scotland; Chanel, on a visit there, had fallen in love with his tweeds and wool so much that he made them a permanent fixture in his designs. Tennant in a Linton tweed overcoat and two-tone desert boots, running his fingers through his unkempt hair, was the classic Chanel.

She was always Scottish in the first place, born the youngest daughter of Tobias Tennant of the Glenconner family, who made her fortune developing cotton fabric bleach, and Lady Emma Cavendish, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (born Deborah Mitford). Her parents ran a farm in Newcastleton, on the Scottish border, where, like older brother Eddy and sister Isabel, she attended local elementary school before being sent to St. Leonards in St. Andrews.

She found that she had style, and exactly what that style was, wandering the hills in inadequate shoes and smoking rebellious cigarettes in the back of her father’s barn. Growing up on a farm kept her grounded, she said. “Childbirth and sheep, blood and entrails and sex.”

Exceptionally for a fashion star, Tennant remained true to his homeland. She announced her first modeling retirement before she was 30, when she got married (dressed by favorite designer Helmut Lang) at the local kirk with no celebrity guests. Her fiance was David Lasnet, assistant to photographer Mario Testino; they met in a photo shoot. (Lasnet later retrained as an osteopath.) They lived briefly in Manhattan before returning to Scotland, where they had a pasture house in Edinburgh and a house in Edrom, Berwickshire, with a vegetable garden and chickens.

Tennant did not intend to continue modeling after the birth of her children, Marcel, Cecily, Jasmine and Iris, but it was unexpectedly easy to do shows of limited duration, and she continued to be sought after for the rest of her life by advertisements, magazine work, regular catwalks and an appearance at the 2012 Olympics ceremony as a British differentiator: “I didn’t find a better part-time job”.

In 2015, London gun makers Holland & Holland, now owned by the Chanel group, asked Tennant to help design their country equipment: their own out-of-service uniform, from solid heather-proof shoes to shepherd’s plaid wrap, it was ideal. (Although they never went as far as her thermal layer; she always wore a warm vest under those sweaters and shirts from Paris or Milan.) Tennant called former Vogue stylist Isabella Cawdor as a partner, and over the course of five years they created a banner: their criterion was, whatever the outfit, “You have to be able to jump a barbed wire fence over it”.

Tennant and Lasnet split earlier this year. He and his children survive it.

Stella Tennant, model and designer, born on December 17, 1970; died on December 22, 2020