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Remembering the Beautiful, Dynamic L’Wren Scott

L’Wren Scott’s shows were, for a time, at the end of the 2000s, the most civilized moment in New York Fashion Week. They were always held at the very end of the week and were small and cozy affairs. Everyone had a seat, usually in a U-shaped configuration, and the room was always a special one: a gallery hung with a bunch of Basquiats, say, or a windowed sliver overlooking the river at the Standard Hotel.

It wasn’t so much a show as a luncheon, with the food as another carefully considered accessory: hot-pink dim sum one year, a single-backed potato wearing a supersize blob of caviar the next. Mick Jagger was usually there, which always sent a flutter through even that jaded crowd — the audience would sit, relax, and feel their adolescent crush surge embarrassingly forward. There were always celebrities at Scott's shows because that was her world: Nicole Kidman, Ellen Barkin, Daphne Guinness, Rachel Feinstein. Her people were women in tight dresses and full makeup and hair like Veronica Lake, and the red carpet was her natural habitat: Once, for the Oscars, Scott designed a 1,400-carat diamond necklace for Kidman to wear. 

Scott, who was found dead this morning of an apparent suicide, began as a model for Thierry Mugler in the '80s ("The Longest Legs in Britain," read one headline) but quickly moved to the other side of the business, collaborating frequently as a stylist with Herb Ritts. In 2000, she was the named the official stylist of the Oscars and in 2006 she launched her collection. 

She was so tall and so glamorous, so unlike anyone else you’d ever seen. She was easy in her six-foot-three skin as she’d sit down to watch the models parade their narrow pencil skirts, their snug little cardigans, and their general air of film-noir fantasy up and down the runway. Scott grew up a Mormon in a small Utah town, learning to sew because nothing out there fit, and even as she entered fashion and celebrity’s most inner ranks, she retained an outsider’s sense of what a riot the whole thing could be. Her collections often felt like fashion playing at fashion, as if even clothes that beautiful and serious could still harbor a happy bit of camp. (Her signature dress was all suck-it-all-in vamp named The Headmistress.) As she sat there next to Mick Jagger, you could feel her younger self in the Utah cinema, living through Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.

Recently — despite having canceled her show during London Fashion Week last season — Scott was expanding beyond the innermost in crowd, with handbags sold at Barneys and a collaboration with Banana Republic that brought lipstick-printed silk pajamas to a bigger audience than she’d ever had before. She had a fragrance that came in a pretty red bottle with a silver snap. One Christmas, Lancôme released a lipstick in her favorite, particularly rich shade of Bordeaux red. 

Photo: Dominique Charriau/Getty Images

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