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Why the feminist commentariat was wrong about the L'Wren Scott headlines

L'Wren ScottMick JaggerFashion ShowsEntertainmentFeminismNewspaper and MagazineSuicide

When L’Wren Scott, 49, was discovered to have apparently committed suicide on March 17, the main thing that her death made headlines for was the fact that she had been Mick Jagger’s girlfriend for 13 years.

News outlets have been catching feminist flak ever since.

But you know what? The main thing that most people, whether inside or outside the media, know about L’Wren Scott is that she had been Mick Jagger’s girlfriend for 13 years.

Yes, Scott, who was found in her Manhattan apartment last Monday after apparently hanging herself, did have a separate career of her own — of sorts. She had been a fashion model — in the 1990s. And, although her 6’ 3” height and willowy figure made her a striking runway presence, she never made it to supermodel status.

She was working as a Hollywood stylist — a respectable although scarcely high-profile job — when she met Jagger in 2001. In 2006, Scott launched a line of designer clothes. Yes, such celebrities as Nicole Kidman (reportedly a close friend), Sarah Jessica Parker and Michelle Obama wore her dresses. But there’s a big difference between selling (or perhaps giving away, for publicity purposes) a few frocks to famous ladies and running a successful design business. Earlier this year, Wren canceled her fall runway show. Despite having designed a mid-price line for Banana Republic, documents filed in Britain by her company, LS Fashion Ltd., reported that she was nearly $6 million in debt at the time of her death. Others reported a trail of unpaid suppliers and staff, and there were also reports that she was about to shut down the firm after only eight years. (LS Fashion Ltd. denies that Scott’s business was in trouble.)

But from reading the feminist commentariat, you’d think that Scott was Coco Chanel being remembered in the media only for her romance with “Boy” Capel. Here’s Margaret Wappler at Dame magazine:

“On the day of her death from apparent suicide at age 49, Scott’s most notable accomplishment, according to the media, was being Mick Jagger’s girlfriend. Wait, seriously?

“Just what every successful woman wants chiseled on her gravestone: ‘Herein lies the girlfriend of a man more famous than she.’

“News outlets on Monday could barely constrain themselves from trumpeting Scott’s association with the Rolling Stones frontman, sometimes even blasting it in the headline as if her relationship with a huge celebrity was the primary reason to grieve or care. ‘Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott found dead,’ according to the BBC. ‘L’Wren Scott, noted fashion designer, Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, found dead,’ from CNN. ‘L’Wren Scott, designer and Jagger’s girlfriend, found dead,’ reported USA Today. These are all major news organizations that should know better than to give her own accomplishments, formidable in an industry just as glamorous as rock ’n’ roll (but maybe not as interesting to most hetero men so I guess it doesn’t matter as much), equal billing with her romantic proclivities.”

The L.A. Times’ Randy Lewis reports even more feminist obloquy, on Twitter:

“I knew L’Wren Scott was a designer. Had no idea who her boyfriend was. RIP.,” wrote Luiza Ch. Savage, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Canada’s Maclean’s magazine.

“Before L’Wren Scott was known as ‘Mick Jagger’s girlfriend,’ she was known as a designer with a pretty damn successful career,” Abbie Ruzicka, staffer for Boston public TV-radio station WGBH, wrote.

“My thoughts are with Mick, but her name is L’Wren Scott, not ‘Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend,’ ” fashion reporter Nico Bellay tweeted.

“You set feminism back 100 years, @NYTStyles, when you can’t manage to put L’Wren Scott’s name first in favor of who she dated #Disrespect,” New York-based fashion writer Laurie Brookins tweeted.

Yes, L’Wren Scott’s apparent suicide at a relatively young age was a sad affair: an elegant and talented woman who was fighting demons, financial or otherwise, that we’ll never really know about.

But she wasn’t Coco Chanel. And there’s a reason nearly every news outlet that reported her death ran a photo of her in Jagger’s company in happier days: Mick Jagger is simply a thousand times better known than L’Wren Scott ever was, and had there been no Jagger, there would have been very few news stories, except in the fashion press. Newspapers still have to sell newspapers, and the same goes for their electronic counterparts. On her own, L’Wren Scott was almost famous. She wasn’t famous.   

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Charlotte Allen writes frequently about feminism, politics and religion. Follow her on Twitter @MeanCharlotte.

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