Stella Tennant was born (1970-2020) in London, the youngest of 3 children to the Hon Tobias Tennant, son of 2nd Baron Glenconner, and Lady Emma Cavendish. Tennant rose to fame in the 1990s while modelling for Versace, Alexander McQueen and other designers. Although she was the grand-daughter of a Duke, Tennant didn’t become one of the leading British models until her 20s.
In 2016 Stella co-designed a collection with Lady Isabel Cawdor for the Chanel-owned, London-based brand Holland & Holland. She also ran Tennant & Son, a line of hand-knitted cashmeres and a luxury home wares company with her sister. For her last decade, she devoted her time to environmental and climate change causes.
This aristocratic British model who was a muse to great designers died suddenly at 50. The family said arrangements for a memorial service would be announced but they did not disclose her cause of death till now - suicide. Police Scotland said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Stella McCartney wrote beautifully about her late friend. Fashion house Versace paid tribute to Tennant, saying: “Versace is mourning the death of Stella Tennant. Stella was Gianni Versace’s muse for many years and friend of the family. Gianni’s sister Donatella Versace, who inherited the company on her brother's 1997 death, posted a photo of Tennant in a tribute to the model. Fashion designer Marc Jacobs said her beauty, style and body language combined with her manners and personality were like no other.
Stella Tennant was a granddaughter of 11th Duke of Devon-shire Andrew Cavendish and his wife Deborah Mitford who also came from a stylish, eccentric, aristocratic family. The Mitfords were a family this blog was very familiar with. The Mitford sisters, Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Jessica and Deborah, were all born in the early C20th to Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney, and raised in the Cotswolds. They had a brother Tom who later died in action in Burma in 1945.
Jessica & Deborah later married nephews of prime ministers Winston Churchill & Harold Macmillan respectively, and Deborah and Diana both married wealthy aristocrats (Cavendish and Guinness respectively). But despite their privileged upbringing as members of the aristocracy, some of the daughters went on to shock society with their extreme politics and lifestyles .
I will only look at three of the daughters. Unity Mitford (1914-48) was a staunch supporter of the Fascist movement and an intimate of Adolf Hitler. It was Unity who had introduced her sister Diana Mitford to the Fuhrer back in March 1935. Having become disappointed with mainstream British politics, Sir Oswald Mosley became the leader of the British Union of Fascists in 1932. So it was not a surprise that when Diana and Mosley married in Joseph Goebbels’ drawing room in Oct 1936, Unity and Hitler were there to celebrate.
The Duke of Windsor married Wallis Simpson in June 1937 in France. But cut off from the British royal family, the new Duchess of Windsor became the closest friend of Diana Mitford, wife of Fascist leader Oswald Mosley. The Windsors, Mosleys and Goebbels must have been very cosy together.
Unity, Tom, Deborah, Diana, Jessica, Nancy and Pamela
Deborah Mitford (1920–2014) was an English aristocrat, writer & socialite. She was the youngest & last surviving of the 6 Mitford sister. She married Lord Andrew Cavendish, younger son of 10th Duke of Devonshire in 1941. Older brother William Cavendish was married to Kathleen Kick Kennedy, sister of the future president, a connection that placed Deborah in the Kennedy circle!! When older brother Marquess William Cavendish, was killed in action in 1944, Andrew Cavendish became heir to the title; in 1950, on his father’s death, he became 11th Duke of Devonshire. The Duchess remained the main public face of Chatsworth House for decades, supervising the restoration of paintings and furniture to the state rooms and the creation of a farm shop, restaurant and gift shop. What a family Stella Tennant came from!!