Fashion Icons Gone Too Soon
From Alber Elbaz to Kate Spade, remembering those who shaped the fashion industry and were gone before their time
Alber Elbaz, the Israeli fashion designer who was best known for his rejuvenation of French fashion house Lanvin, died in April 2021. He was 59.
Elbaz's death was confirmed on Sunday by Richemont, the company backing Elbaz's latest fashion venture, AZ Factory. According to the New York Times, a spokeswoman for Richemont said the cause of death was COVID-19.
The fashion world was shocked in December 2020 when model Stella Tennant died suddenly at the age of 50.
A few weeks later, Tennant's revealed that she had been battling mental health issues for "some time" and died by suicide.
“She was a beautiful soul, adored by a close family and good friends, a sensitive and talented woman whose creativity, intelligence and humor touched so many," her family wrote in a statement.
The fashion designer and handbag maven known for her sweet, sunny aesthetic sent shock waves through the industry when she was found dead by suicide in her New York City apartment on June 5, 2018. She was 55.
The famous fashion designer was murdered outside his Miami mansion in 1997 at age 50 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, in a high-profile case that eventually was turned into a season of American Crime Story. His line, Versace, is now run by his sister Donatella.
The 49-year-old fashion designer and longtime girlfriend of Mick Jagger, known for her eponymous label's precision and attention to detail, devastated friends and the fashion community when she died of suicide inside her Manhattan apartment.
The 1986 death of charismatic fashion and sportswear designer Perry Ellis at age 46 was one of the earliest AIDS deaths within the fashion industry, though the stigma surrounding the disease at the time meant that his company's official statement was that Ellis had died of viral encephalitis.
Perhaps the most legendary sex symbol of modern times, model-turned-actress Marilyn Monroe was found dead at 36 of an apparent drug overdose in her Los Angeles home in 1962. In the nearly six decades since, her death has remained a mystery due to conflicting details and accounts.
The 40-year-old provocative British fashion designer died by suicide in 2010. He had been suffering from depression for years and was devastated by his mother's death 10 days earlier, as well as the 2007 suicide of his mentor Isabella Blow.
Celebrity and fashion photographer Herb Ritts, famous for his portraits of Madonna and other '80s and '90s stars, died in Los Angeles in 2002 at age 50 from complications of pneumonia, possibly related to his HIV-positive status.
The model granddaughter of renowned writer Ernest Hemingway died by suicide in 1996 at age 41, just one day before the 35th anniversary of Ernest's own suicide. She had struggled with eating disorders for years, as well as with alcohol and drug abuse.
The legendary French fashion designer died of a heart attack in Italy in 1957, at the age of 52. After his sudden death, his protégé Yves Saint Laurent succeeded him at age 22, and upheld the house's legacy. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris staged a special exhibition not long ago in honor of the French fashion house.
ROY HALSTON FROWICK
The fashion designer, who dressed Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor (among others) in his slouchy Halston designs, and who helped turn Studio 54's parties into the stuff of legend died in 1990 at age 57 of Kaposi's sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer, after an 18-month struggle with the disease. Ethan Hawke plays the designer in an upcoming Ryan Murphy series for Netflix.
The American fashion designer and punk pioneer died in 2004 of heart failure at age 50. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year prior. His cult status as an emblem of uptown and downtown fashion inspired the likes of Marc Jacobs.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH
Anna Nicole Smith, the former Guess model whose flamboyant made-for-reality-TV life featured paternity and inheritence battles, drug and weight struggles, and her son’s mysterious death, died of a combination of prescription pills in 2007 in Florida. She was 39.
The British fashion icon and whimsical lover of millinery was a mentée of Anna Wintour, and responsible for discovering talents such as Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy, whose artistic hats she made famous. Atfter battling depression, she died by suicide in 2007 at age 48.
The British fashion designer and '60s icon was stabbed to death in 1996 in his West London apartment by his 28-year-old former lover, Diego Cogolato. Clark was 54.
The Project Runway contestant and designer died in 2017 at age 53. While the cause was not released, her obituary stated she died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones.
The American fashion model known as "the world's first supermodel" died of AIDS in 1986 at age 26 after shooting to fame in her teens and eventually becoming addicted to heroin. Angelina Jolie portrayed her in the 1997 eponymous HBO film Gia.
The fashion designer and Project Runway finalist died in 2017 at age 39. While the cause of death was not disclosed, many speculated about the health struggles about which he openly spoke for years beforehand.