L’Wren Scott Her fab­u­lous life – truth or lies?

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - WORDS EM­I­LIE GAMBADE

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.

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