Presented By
L'Wrenn Scott, December 2012
Evan Sung—The New York Times/Redux

Right up until the morning of March 17, when she was found dead by her own hand, fashion designer L’Wren Scott had led a life as unlikely as the name she gave herself. She was a model who became a stylist then a widely admired designer. Her clothes were worn by some of the most beautiful and watched women on the planet. She shared homes in exotic locales with her partner of 13 years, Mick Jagger. And she did it all under her own steam, transforming from Luann Bambrough of Roy, Utah, to fashion highflyer on the strength of her talent, will and 42-in. (107 cm) legs.

Scott, 49, started making clothes after she grew too tall for store-bought items and her adoptive mother Lula suggested she try sewing her own. Her style mirrored her attitude toward her 6-ft. 3-in. (190 cm) frame: confidently feminine and disinclined to shrink from view.

Why she strangled herself with a scarf tied to a doorknob in her Manhattan apartment was a mystery, even to those who loved her. “I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way,” wrote Jagger on his Facebook page, before indefinitely postponing the Rolling Stones’ Australian and New Zealand tour. “I will never forget her.”


This appears in the March 31, 2014 issue of TIME.

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