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August 1 2014

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Saying Goodbye to L’Wren Scott

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l'wren-scott-memorialI found the designer L’Wren Scott almost impossibly glamorous during our encounters, her perfectionism encompassing not only her imposing 6’3″ appearance, but also her surroundings. There were the famous chicken potpies at her intimate luncheon fashion shows and the bouquets of deep red roses she sent with her handwritten thank-you notes. Beyond those things, which I experienced firsthand, there was the glow cast by her long-term relationship with Mick Jagger. Most impressive was Scott’s work itself: Her hourglass dresses were so restrictive yet so suggestive—so out-and-out fabulous—that images of Nicole Kidman and Angelina Jolie wearing them on the red carpet will remain etched in my memory forever.

The glamorous impression that Scott gave in life was reinforced at her memorial at Saint Bartholomew’s church here in Manhattan on Friday night—from the camera crews and celebrity watchers crowding the barricades outside to the actual stars lining the pews. What I learned from the service, however, was that beyond and behind her gleaming surfaces, Scott’s life was vivid and rich, and, yes, perhaps sometimes messy, too.

It was a real life. She was a designer and a stylist, as I knew her, but she was also a sister, an aunt, a lover, a confidante, a best friend, and even a Glammy, the name Jagger’s grandchildren gave her.

The evening’s speakers painted loving pictures of their experiences with Scott for the assembled guests. Five of Jagger’s seven children and two of his ten grandkids joined him at Saint Bartholomew’s. Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Julianne Moore, Meg Ryan, Renée Zellweger, Martin Scorsese, Lorne Michaels, and many magazine editors and other members of the fashion industry attended the ceremony, which was led by the Reverend Lynn C. Sanders. Scott’s adoptive brother Randy Bambrough, Ellen Barkin, André Leon Talley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cathy Horyn, Rachel Feinstein, and Jagger himself all spoke, alternately bringing people to laughter and tears.

The moments that stood out for me were Bambrough’s story about the gymnastics recitals L’Wren organized for the neighborhood kids in her childhood backyard; Barkin’s memory of the time Scott declared herself godmother to Barkin’s daughter, Romy; and Feinstein’s regret at never getting around to painting the canvas she promised her dear friend. Horyn called to task a dress buyer who once wondered what business Scott had attempting to be a designer.

Kindness was one of the through-lines; a lasting sense of mystery about a woman who was fiercely private was another. In his statement after her death, Jagger admitted to struggling to understand how Scott could end her own life. Forty-six days later, he spoke at length about their lives together, sharing endearing anecdotes about their first date at Le Train Bleu in Paris (Scott apparently danced on the tables) and how she couldn’t identify “Gimme Shelter” from among several of the Rolling Stones’ many hits. After reading a poem he penned for her shortly after she died, Jagger announced he would sing. The song: a tender and emotional version of a Bob Dylan tune he said he had never performed before: “Just Like a Woman.”

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