Stella had already met David Lasnet, then a photographer’s assistant, on a Mario Testino shoot. She was so smitten that when they sat opposite each other at lunch “the rice kept falling off my fork,” as she recalls, “I had to give up eating.” And when Testino teasingly told her to stop flirting with the assistant, she turned beet red and he realized that she really had been seriously flirting. Tennant and Lasnet were wed in 1999 in the small village church of Oxnam in Roxburghshire. Stella wore Helmut Lang’s first wedding dress, and when her grandmother, the Duchess of Devonshire, first saw her in it she exclaimed, “Oh darling! The bandaged bride!” It was indeed a short creation so ethereal and wispy that it was later confused for another layer of tissue paper when her mother’s own substantial wedding dress was unpacked for the exhibition House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth that I curated in 2017. It had been considered lost.
Lasnet subsequently qualified as an osteopath. The couple had four exquisite children, Marcel, now 22; Cecily, 20; Jasmine, 17; and Iris, 15.
“To some degree, doing up properties has replaced my desire for making things,” noted Stella in 2003. She was then working on a wonderful West Village apartment in an 1834 brownstone with her architect friend Sebastian Alvarez who she met on her gap year in Chile. The result, as I noted in the June issue that year, was “a country house haven of sticky-fingered chintz and comfort,” and the project was such a success that when it was finished Stella cannily acquired a ruinous house nearby to renovate as an investment project. In 2003, following the birth of their third child Jasmine, the young family decamped from Manhattan to a 1748 house in Berwickshire in the Scottish lowlands, an hour and a half’s drive from the farm that her parents had moved to in the sixties. “I like the idea of being settled,” she said at the time, “because I’ve always felt that in these years of modeling I’ve been in transit.” Vogue’s Sally Singer considered the house “very much like Stella Tennant—blue-blooded but stubbornly down-to-earth.” Stella acquired it through a sealed bid system and, thrifty as she was, she was dismayed when she found out that her bid had been so much higher than the second highest. Nevertheless, she brought her wonderful taste to bear on its transformation into a showplace for her passion for antique taxidermy and exquisite wallpapers—from de Gournay to Martha Armitage. And Stella was rarely happier than when she was transforming the immediate landscape in the company of Bert the gardener.
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