Stella Tennant is our autumn cover star
Cover image: Stella Tennant wears Holland & Holland A/W 16. Styled by Charlie Harrington. Hair by Kota Suizu at Caren, using Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax. Make-up by Andrew Gallimore at CLM Hair & Make-up, using Nars: Velvet Matte Skin Tint in Alaska; Eyeliner Stylo in Unrestricted; and Audacious Mascara. Photograph by Tom Craig
It is one of those perfect Scottish summer days that is the more precious for its rarity. The blue sky is speckled with clouds as white and fluffy as a flock of North Country Cheviots. A warm sun sparkles on the buttercup-studded grass, through which a woman is sprinting, pursued by a similarly svelte and leggy whippet.
To say that Stella Tennant is in her element seems an understatement. Rather, she appears to be a part of the ruggedly beautiful Borders landscape, with her jutting cheekbones, pale-blue eyes sparkling like the clear waters of a burn and hair as windswept and close-cropped as the hills. “It’s just where I feel I belong,” she says.
A couple of weeks after Town & Country’s shoot, we meet in the very different surroundings of the Holland & Holland store on Bruton Street, in the pouring rain. Tennant swaggers in, now looking every inch the eccentric urbanite in baggy tweed trousers and a loose checked shirt over a vest, a diamond bracelet dangling around one slender wrist.
“I love the crossover between town and country,” she says, folding her 5’11” length into a sofa and sipping a green smoothie. “I’ve been such a gypsy for so many years that actually being in one place for more than three weeks is really odd.” Tennant’s friend and collaborator Isabella Campbell, the Countess of Cawdor, chic in a silk shirt and neat navy skirt, agrees. “It’s quite a privilege to be able to flit between the two because each one brings something to the other.”
Photograph by Tom Craig
Most of us fall into the class of being essentially town mice or country mice; but these two women inhabit both worlds with effortless grace. Both are achingly stylish and cosmopolitan. Tennant’s androgynous beauty propelled her to global fame, made her a muse to Karl Lagerfeld and, though she’s in her mid-forties, still takes her on modelling assignments around the globe. The dainty, porcelain-skinned Campbell, meanwhile, had a successful career as an editor and fashion stylist. They met 20 years ago on a shoot, and have been friends ever since.
Yet both women have deep roots in the countryside.Tennant grew up on a farm in Roxburghshire, the location for today’s fashion shoot. Her father, Toby, is “a farmer to his fingertips”; her mother is the artist Emma Tennant, the sister of the 12th Duke of Devonshire, and the daughter of Deborah, the youngest of the Mitford sisters, which meant that Stella and her siblings spent summer holidays roaming the splendours of Chatsworth.
Photograph by Tom Craig
After several years living between London and New York, Tennant moved back to Scotland, and now resides in an 18th-century manor house in Berwickshire with her husband David Lasnet, a fashion photographer-turned-osteopath, and their four children. There, she runs a business with her sister Isabel, a professional gilder, turning found objects into works of art (a pair of gilded antlers from Tennant & Tennant hangs on the wall behind her).
Photograph by Tom Craig
Campbell’s antecedents are similarly grand and landed. The daughter of the 11th Earl of Harrington, she grew up in the wilds of Ireland; following her marriage to Colin Campbell, the Earl of Cawdor, she has made her home on the vast Cawdor estate in the Highlands. She too has four children (the eldest, Lady Jean Campbell, has followed her mother into the world of fashion as a model) and helps to run several holiday cottages and her husband’s sporting shoots, alongside the fashion shoots that periodically also take place at Cawdor.
No wonder, then, that when the venerable gunmakers Holland & Holland – founded in 1835 and now owned by Chanel – wanted to recruit a designer to give a chic edge to their sporting and lifestyle collection, they approached Tennant. She, in turn, asked Campbell to help. “I wouldn’t have done it on my own,” she says.
The pair have worked together since last year, and describe their collaboration as “like a marriage’. ”I see more of Stella than I see of anyone else,” says Campbell. “It’s the dream gig, working with a great friend.”
This is an extract from Lydia Slater’s interview with Stella Tennant for Town & Country. Read the full story in our autumn issue, on sale now. Buy the issue here; alternatively, to receive every issue delivered to your door, subscribe here.
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