On Wednesday, the news of British model Stella Tennant’s sudden death rattled the fashion world. At the age of 50, she’d had a long and successful career spanning more than two decades, covering major magazines like Vogue and walking catwalks around the world up until the pandemic shut everything down this year. Her last show was in January, when she walked Valentino Haute Couture.
Born in Scotland into a family of aristocrats, Tennant got her start in the early ’90s after being noticed for her androgynous look. She made her Chanel debut wearing a nose ring and went on to to walk for Helmut Lang, Prada, Jean Paul Gaultier, Gianni Versace, and many more, in an era when supermodels ruled the catwalks. “We met when you were at the beginning of your career,” wrote Donatella Versace on Instagram following the news of Tennant’s death. “I cherish every moment we spent together.”
Looking back on Tennant’s runway career in particular, it’s clear that, despite her distinct look, she was also a shape-shifter, capable of taking on many different characters and roles, while still holding onto her signature special something. Those who spoke about her on Wednesday recalled not only her professionalism but also her kindness behind the scenes. And even when she wasn’t walking in Chanel shows, she still managed to look incredibly cool in the front row.
Below, some of her most striking runway moments over the years.