The 50-year-old, who had celebrated her most recent birthday only days before on 17 December, had an illustrious career spanning almost 30 years, after she was discovered during an American Vogue call for “non-models” in 1993.
Her striking looks, including a nose ring, which she refused to take out for the original Condé Nast shoot, soon caught the attention of top-flight designers around the world – most notably Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel.
Tennant quickly became the face of the brand, in what was the start of a long relationship with the French fashion house.
The former art student walked the catwalk for countless international brands and was frequently chosen to model haute couture by designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Dior by John Galliano during Paris Fashion Week.
The mother of four was lauded for her work with several awards, including Model of the Year at the 2011 British Fashion Awards and the Contribution to British Fashion award at the Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year 2016 awards.
Tennant was also inducted into the Scottish Fashion Awards Hall of Fame as Model of the Year at its annual awards event in 2012. The same year, she played a starring role in the London Olympics closing ceremony, joining models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss to show off the work of British designers.
Tributes to Tennant – who was the granddaughter of Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, and Deborah Mitford, one of the Mitford sisters – have poured in from the fashion industry over the last 24 hours.
Stella McCartney wrote: “My darling Stella, I love you and will miss you so, so terribly,” on Instagram.
Fashion house Versace paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “Versace is mourning the death of Stella Tennant. Stella was Gianni Versace’s muse for many years and friend of the family. We will miss you forever Stella. Rest In Peace.”
Here are some of Tennant’s best pictures from her professional and personal life.
Stella Tennant walks the catwalk for Chanel in Paris in October 1996. Karl Lagerfeld praised her “modern allure”, dressing her in everything from the label’s signature classic suits to oversized bows and pearls.
Tennant wears Dior by John Galliano at Paris Fashion Week in 1997. Tennant was one of a number of British models who broke through during the early 1990s as part of the Cool Britannia era for culture.
Tennant at her wedding to photographer David Lasnet in 1999, in Scotland. The bride wore a Helmut Lang dress. The pair met when Mario Testino hired Lasnet as an assistant. They had four children together, Marcel, Cecily, Jasmine and Iris.
Tennant at an autumn/winter Yves Saint Laurent show in 2001 under the creative directorship of Tom Ford.
Tennant models for Chanel in 2012. She remained a fan of the French fashion house for many years, appearing at the Paris show most recently in 2019.
At the Viktor and Rolf show in 2003, Tennant walked alongside actor Tilda Swinton, also known for her sharp, androgynous look.
Stella Tennant favoured revealing tailoring for her Model of the Year win at the 2011 British Fashion Awards. She also won a Contribution to British Fashion award at the Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year 2016 awards.
Stella Tennant wears Christopher Kane as part of the 2012 London Olympics Closing Ceremony. She appeared alongside other Brit favourites: Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Jourdan Dunn, David Gandy, and Lily Cole.
Tennant wore feathers by Burberry to the Met Gala in 2014.
Tennant went for a sleek silhouette when she won at the 2016 Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards.
Aged 48, Tennant was still regularly snapped by street style photographers at fashion week. Here she is pictured at the Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, 2018.