L’Wren Scott Her fabulous life – truth or lies?
was unfathomably chic. At 1,9m tall, with long dark hair framing her face, she was spotted aged 21 by US fashion photographer Bruce Weber (the man behind some of the most recognisable black-and-white shots of a young, innocent and half-naked Kate Moss) while he was in her native Utah, shooting a campaign for Calvin Klein. Born Laura Bambrough in 1964, she changed her name during a visit to Paris for a modelling assignment. Her life, as described in the many tributes and testimonies that poured in after her untimely death, seemed magical, incredibly glamorous and gloriously fun; or so it looked through the filter of the social life she shared with the public.
Adopted by a Mormon family from Roy, Utah, she was captivated by clothes and fashion from a young age. In an article for The Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong reported that at age five, Scott was doing macramé and cross-stitch; at 12, she already understood the power of nude ballerina pumps to create an illusion of length on the legs and was changing outfits five times a day, revealing an early predilection for the fashion industry and the game. Whether because of her towering height, which compelled her to design her own clothes to fit her body (and, along the way, gave her a sound understanding of proportions), her work as a model or her talent, Scott was extremely popular in the industry. She had many celebrity fans: photographer Herb Ritts (she worked as a stylist with him), Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Olivia Wilde, to name but a few, and then came Mick Jagger in 2001, who became her lover.The two are reported to have first met on a shoot with Ritts and worked together on a 2008 documentary on The Rolling Stones directed by Martin Scorsese called Shine a Light, for which Scott was responsible for the costumes.
The public had a glimpse into their love story through photos she posted on Instagram. Here, a picture from a break on Mustique island where Jagger has a home; there, in front of a helicopter, with her arm around Jagger, smiling; next, seated alongside him, with the glittering skyline of Los Angeles a romantic backdrop. Even resting on the sofa with a sleeping dog on her lap, her body draped in a soft red jump suit, Scott seemed effortlessly magnetic. And at ease. And this is where the pointed heel pinches. Life, as pictured on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any of the other myriad social media platforms with tools to filter, scale, crop and edit a careful selection of images or text, is more often than not a false depiction of one’s reality. Exposed to the mercy and influence of sycophants and trolls, the accumulation and curation of those images soon create the frame of a parallel life, where lovers’ spats, disputes, financial difficulties, poor health or depression are Photoshopped away.
The New York Post recently published a story stating that ‘[Scott] was just one of countless New Yorkers who secretly fake their fabulous lives’. It continued: ‘Ironically, the New Yorkers most expected to live with no budgets, no cares and no limitations are members of the creative class, people with typically low-paying glamour jobs in media, the arts, fashion, publishing. And the closer their proximity to wealth and fame, the higher the pressure.’ It cites as examples the fall of most of the rich and stylish participants of reality-TV show The Real Housewives of New York City, concluding that L’Wren Scott’s tragic death ‘laid bare the unglamorous truth about her life and the world she so tenuously inhabited’.
In our fame- and self-obsessed society, there’s a real danger that a misrepresentation of reality will be fed to us. There’s also a risk that that version will magnify celebrities’ breakdowns, often exaggerating them up because they clash with the glitz the public is used to seeing, on massive billboards, on the pages of a magazine or as a status update. Concluding that Scott’s life was all smoke and mirrors because of the surface disparity between those pictures, tweets or status updates and her suicide would be tantamount to saying that she was only Jagger’s girlfriend; it would simply be limiting her life to the more fabulous side she chose to share as a beautifully posed and hashtagged image. Life is more complex and Scott’s more private persona certainly was. More complex and patently tragic.
Because Scott’s suicide didn’t fit her strong and private personality, nor her other more entertaining persona, her death has become fodder for tabloids and blogs, with headlines: ‘The Agonizing Secret She Kept From Mick Jagger’ (Scott is said to have borrowed money against an apartment Mick Jagger bought her), ‘L’Wren Scott “Distraught” And “Embarrassed” Over Alleged Six Million Dollar Debt’ (her business was said to be in trouble after she cancelled her 2013 London Fashion Week show), or ‘Jagger And Designer Girlfriend L’Wren Scott Split Before Suicide’ (their possibly rocky relationship is rumoured to have prompted her suicide). As theories make the rounds at dinner tables and across bar counters, what becomes apparent is that fame is almost always a double-edged sword: the more glamorous the life of a celebrity, the more shocking and inexplicable the fall.
in 2007, 48-year-old English fashion influencer Isabella Blow died after drinking a bottle of weed killer; it was her sixth suicide attempt. Diagnosed as battling with a bipolar disorder, she was also struggling to come to terms with her waning celebrity. In 2009, South Korean model Daul Kim was found after she hanged herself aged 20 in her Paris apartment. According to Simon Usborne in The Independent, Kim was known for ‘her quirky sensibility and fondness for Tolstoy as [much as for] her lustrous hair and dolllike features’; she had been walking the most important runways since 2007. She was bright and beautiful and famous, but on her blog Kim noted that she felt ‘mad, depressed and overworked’, adding, ‘the more I gain, the more lonely it is… I know I’m like a ghost.’
In 2010, in a suspected suicide, the body of 22-yearold French model Tom Nicon was found in the courtyard of a building in Milan after a fall from the fourth floor. It was just one day before the start of Milan Men’s Fashion Week.
In the same year, UK fashion designer Alexander McQueen was found hanged in his apartment, with a note saying, ‘Look after my dogs, sorry, I love you, Lee.’ It set rumours alight about the fashion industry’s reputation of being too tough and its penchant for leaving designers burnt out and depressed.
French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was notorious for his nervous breakdowns (his partner Pierre Bergé once said Saint Laurent ‘was born with a nervous breakdown’); UK designer John Galliano’s anti-Semitic harangue on the terrace of a Parisian bistro in 2011 was apparently related to work stress and ‘multiple addictions’; and French designer Christophe Decarnin was hospitalised the same year for depression. More recently, model and TV presenter Peaches Geldof was found dead at her home. Some speculate it was suicide but, at the time of going to press, an autopsy had proved inconclusive and results from toxicology tests were pending.
L’Wren Scott at Paris Fashion Week, 2013.
Clockwise from top ‘The longest legs in Britain’,1992; at UK Tastemaker of the Year, 2013, London; an Instagram snap with Mick Jagger; ever-chic on Instagram; with Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2012 Night of Stars, New York.
Left, from top to bottom With Daphne Guinness, 2012, New York; Project Runway season 9 finale, 2011, New York; with Jagger, 2013, Los Angeles. Right, from top to bottom Tom Nicon on the Burberry catwalk, 2009, Milan; Isabella Blow at the Kill Bill: Vol. 2 premiere, 2004, London; Peaches Geldof at the Elle Style Awards, 2013, London; front-page news of Geldof’s death,April 2014; Daul Kim at New York Fashion Week, 2007; Alexander McQueen.