L’Wren Scott, prominent fashion designer and long-time girlfriend of Mick Jagger, was found dead in an apparent suicide in her New York City apartment on Monday morning. It has been revealed by MailOnline that Scott was “distraught and ’embarrassed’ over her failing business.” According to MailOnline, L’Wren Scott’s company was $6 million in debt at the time of her suicide. An assistant discovered her body after receiving a text at 8:30 a.m. from Scott requesting her to go over to Scott’s 11th Avenue apartment and let herself in. After hearing about Scott’s death, actress Ellen Barkin and several other close friends went to Scott’s apartment. One friend said that Scott had been avoiding phone calls and had been acting strangely for more than a week.
The 49-year-old was a fashion industry veteran who began making her own clothes as a teenager. By the age of 12, she was already six feet tall and would eventually grow three inches more. In an interview, Scott said she was forced to learn how to sew as a youngster because nothing fit her. She moved to Paris after high school in order to pursue a modeling career at the suggestion of photographer Bruce Weber, who noticed her at a Calvin Klein photo shoot. In Paris, Scott worked with Chanel and Thierry Mugler as well as famed photographers such as Jean-Paul Goude, David Bailey, and Guy Bourdin. After spending some time as a model, Scott eventually “found herself far more absorbed by the skills and artistry of dress making than walking the runway.” In the early 1990’s, Scott moved to California and worked as a costume designer for the film industry and collaborated as a stylist with photographer Herb Ritts. One of her first jobs helped establish her as a stylist when she was assigned to the White Diamonds ad campaign. While classic fragrances generally have more longevity than those associated with celebrities, White Diamonds, famously endorsed by Elizabeth Taylor, went on to become the number-one selling celebrity-endorsed perfume since its 1991 introduction. Is still holds that distinction to this day. Scott would later work with fashion icons Karl Lagerfeld, Mario Sorrenti, and Helmut Newton.
The vagaries of the fashion industry seemed to have hit Scott especially hard. According to an October balance sheet on file in Great Britain, Scott’s London-based business, LS Fashion Limited, recorded a $4.2 million deficit in 2011 and $5.9 million deficit in 2012. It lists $1.7 million as being owed within one year to creditors and $7.6 million due after that. Recently, Scott cancelled her show at London Fashion Week. One fashion source said that at that point it became apparent “something was wrong” because that show “would have been so important to her.” Of course no one had any way of knowing the amount of debt that L’Wren Scott’s company acquired before the suicide. This same source also noted that Scott, who was normally a prolific user of Instagram, had recently “gone quiet.” In previous years, Scott showcased her collection during London Fashion Week during an intimate lunch for select editors. According to the press, Scott cited “production delays in key show and couture pieces.” Instead, Scott decided to show her collection at Paris Fashion Week via appointment in her Paris showroom to small groups of editors. She planned to use social media to broadcast the collection as well.
Working in wardrobe departments of L.A. film studios as well as with private clients, Scott quickly developed a reputation for having a pitch-perfect instinct when it came to making women who worked in front of a camera look good. Scott was known as a private person in both her professional and personal relationships, a quality that was evidenced in her relationship with rock icon Mick Jagger, whom she met at a photo shoot in 2001. Being discreet also made her highly sought-after by celebrity clients. After years of privately designing special dresses, Scott launched her own collection in 2006. A-Listers continued to wear her sophisticated, sharply tailored designs. In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama was wearing one of Scott’s designs when Mick Jagger visited the White House.
Though LS Fashion was in the red, Scott had several other deals in the works. In December of 2013, she collaborated with Banana Republic to make a limited-edition collection for which she was paid in the neighborhood of $250,000. She starred alongside the models for it in the advertisements. The public, who previously had only limited access to her designs, responded favorably, and the collection quickly sold out. Additionally, she recently worked a deal out with Caudalie, a French cosmetics company. According to a fashion-industry source, she was “happy as a clam” at the October dinner thrown by Caudalie in her honor at The Plaza. Also, one of the pages on the official L’Wren Scott webpage shows online store to be “coming soon.” Scott’s apartment is currently worth over $9 million and was purchased in 2010 for $5.6 million by Scottland Management.
But a fashion-industry source said L’Wren had been in serious financial trouble for a long time. Mick Jagger was in Australia on tour with the Rolling Stones when he received the news. He is reported by his spokesperson to have been “completely shocked and devastated by the news.” Scott’s cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner’s Office, but police sources say that no foul play is suspected. One source who knew both Scott and Jagger said neither drank or did drugs and that there were no signs of problems in the relationship. The only problem could be the amount of debt that L’Wren Scott’s company was in though no suicide note was found at the scene. L’Wren Scott was 49 years old.
Opinion By Donna Westlund