Stella Tennant appeared during the London 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony ©Getty Images

The Versace fashion house and designer Stella McCartney have led tributes to model Stella Tennant, who has died suddenly five days after her 50th birthday.

Tennant had been one of a group of supermodels who took part in the Closing Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics.

In a statement her family said: "It is with great sadness we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant on 22nd December 2020. 

"Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. 

"She will be greatly missed."

During the London 2012 Closing Ceremony, as the music of David Bowie’s Fashion was played, the sequence featured giant floats with a representation of the models who emerged along a red ,white and blue catwalk shaped like the British Union Flag. 

In what was described by Vogue magazine as a "career milestone", Tennant wore a Christopher Kane-designed Swarovski crystal catsuit on a catwalk alongside fellow models Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Lily Cole and David Gandy.

Tennant later became a spokesperson participating in the "Global Cool" campaign to raise awareness of climate change and in Oxfam’s "Second Hand September", which encouraged the purchase of second-hand clothing.

Stella Tennant featured at London 2012 alongside other famed models ©Getty Images
Stella Tennant featured at London 2012 alongside other famed models ©Getty Images

Tennant was the granddaughter of the Duke of Devonshire.

Although born in London, she grew up on the Scottish borders and had originally studied sculpture before her breakthrough in modelling.

She was photographed for British Vogue in 1993 and was also widely seen on the cover magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar as she became well known through her work with Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Prada and Versace.

Tennant was selected by Karl Lagerfeld as the face of Chanel and there were many who felt she had a resemblance to Coco Chanel, the founder of the company.

In a message on social media the House of Versace said: "Stella was Gianni Versace’s muse for 20 years and a friend of the family."

Donatella Versace said she would "cherish every moment spent with her".

Stella McCartney added: "Your soul and inner beauty exceeded the external perfection, Stella. 

"May you ride high above us all on the most perfect horse, eternally in peace."