5 Thoughts on L’Wren Scott’s Death

LWren Scott, death, suicide, fashion designer, celebrity fashion

L’Wren Scott in a feature on Harper’s Bazaar.

L’Wren Scott, founder of the namesake fashion company and girlfriend of Mick Jagger, hung herself in her New York apartment on Monday. Her company was said to be in debt of over seven million dollars and her last runway show was cancelled (the reason given was that the clothes were not going to be ready on time due to production issues.) Read about her death and a bit on her background here. While nothing is concrete, people are speculating that the reasons behind her suicide may have had something to do with the fact that her business was struggling and she had a lot of debt. Her death is really sad and I’d like to share a few thoughts.

LWren Scott, death, suicide, fashion designer, celebrity fashion

Celebrities wearing L’Wren Scott dresses.

1. Celebrity brand ambassadors don’t guarantee success. The list of celebrities who wore L’Wren Scott’s clothing is extremely impressive, yet that still did not guarantee the success of her brand. In fact, after reading through quite a few articles online after her death, it seems from the comments that many people didn’t even know who she was (beyond “Mick Jagger’s girlfriend.”) I think this really highlights the fact that even if the top A-listers are wearing your clothes, this does not necessarily translate into brand awareness and commercial success. (And a side note here – these celebrities probably never paid a penny for her dresses meanwhile it must have cost her a fortune to give them away.)

2. Organizing production for a fashion company is very, very difficult. Even if you are super well connected, rich, and have a famous boyfriend, that still doesn’t mean you are immune to production problems and fabric delays and factories who don’t understand deadlines. The Fall 2014 catwalk show was cancelled due to production delays (although some rumours say it was lack of funds) and for almost every single brand, this is crippling. It appears to have been for her.

LWren Scott, death, suicide, fashion designer, celebrity fashion

Dresses available at Barneys.

3. It’s hard to make $3,000 dresses fly off the racks. One newspaper pointed out that even though L’Wren’s stockist list includes stores like Saks and Jeffreys in the US, they claim to no longer be selling the brand. The only explanation for this is that the collections weren’t selling well enough, and they were dropped. Barneys’ has quite a few of her items online, and most of her dresses are in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. I’ve posted a few photos above, and from the photos, I don’t think these necessarily look like $3,000 dresses. But, I know they are worth the price tags, because she is very well known for her incredible handwork, quality, and detailing, however I don’t believe that many customers care about those things anymore. It takes a highly educated fashion consumer to take an interest in very high end garment construction, there are few like this, and they are disappearing. Sadly, people don’t appreciate quality as much as they used to.

LWren Scott, death, suicide, fashion designer, celebrity fashion

Illustrations from recent collections.

4. Fashion companies are incredibly expensive to run. I don’t know how L’Wren worked out her finances, but most sources are saying she didn’t take any money from Mick, and if her company had $7 million dollars in debt, then she certainly managed to spend quite a lot in the past few years. I know from experience that the cost of production, public relations, marketing, and day to day operations is very expensive, and I don’t run a company that needs to pay to entertain celebrities, gift expensive dresses, and have fancy offices and catwalk shows. I’m quite happy to fly Easyjet for business and take public transport, I somehow doubt L’Wren was doing this (even if she was willing to, I don’t think her image could take it.) Factor in the fact that her wholesale orders were probably not massive, and she wasn’t retailing her clothing – and you have very expensive operation costs and very little coming in. This is the reality many small brands face.

LWren Scott, death, suicide, fashion designer, celebrity fashion

Mick Jagger and L’Wren Scott.

5. A glamorous life, a very pretty face, and a rock star boyfriend don’t mean happiness. And I think that is is an important lesson for all of us.

R.I.P. L’Wren Scott.

All images from L’Wren Scott’s website and Barneys except Mick and L’Wren image from here.

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  • Disappointed W.

    Very sad. Those illustrations you shared are amazing. And the craftsmanship was there. She was always such a refreshing change of pace from the rest of NYFW. Whatever the reason for her making this decision, everyone has to remember that depression is an illness that can be helped. Sometimes I feel like everything would be better if I wasn’t around. I think about not existing anymore but I’m too afraid of death, if you get what I mean. And too often, people are too hard on themselves or afraid to show weakness. The nature of the fashion industry itself does not help make matters any easier (just the opposite). I hope others will find the strength to talk to someone or a therapist about their hopes and fears. I did and it helped me refocus and be myself again. R.I.P, L’wren Scott. You’ll be missed terribly. :(

  • Kati

    understand from the pressure applied in the everyday to designers, man sometimes if it was not for my family and friends, never mind feeling like everyone is looking to you and that pressure added, trying to put on a face and especially as a woman, more than celebrity and who your circle might be, that means nothing. I’m saddened L’Wren didn’t fall back on that though, so little people have that support, but I understand, it’s so very difficult to loose face at the best of times. What a sad story this is, after losing so many and designers expressing they’re own distaste of the industry and where it is going, how many designers we don’t hear of, taking their lives to fulfil what? A pressure from CCOs and collectors who would rather eat into a legacy for money than look to true creativity. Where are these labels to go?

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I don’t know. The industry is a sad state of affairs right now.

  • Jill

    Great post, Alexandra. I have felt incredibly sad over L’Wren’s death. My mother and I went to Barney’s once and we looked at L’Wren’s collection, even turning the clothes inside out. My mother, who is an avid sewer, said she had never seen such beautiful finishing in her life. The clothes were truly gorgeous, and well made. How I wish I could’ve afforded them! That being said, I did buy several pieces from the Banana Republic collection, which were surprisingly well-made, cut well, and beautifully turned out. It was a revelation! It makes me so sad that L’Wren, who was so talented, is gone.