Annabelle Neilson, the former model, muse and great friend of the late Lee Alexander McQueen, has died aged 49, according to police. Neilson, whose life was beset by tragedy and illness, was found dead at her Chelsea, London, home by emergency services. Police said they are not treating the death as suspicious.
Neilson, whose family had myriad aristocratic and royal family connections, pursued various careers after modeling: She was a star of the Bravo TV series “Ladies of London” and wrote a children’s book series called “The Me Me Me’s,” which are aimed at helping children explore their emotions and garnered great reviews when they came out in 2015.
Neilson was divorced, having been married for three years to Nat Rothschild in the late ’90s. Her circle of friends included Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and British Vogue editor Edward Enninful. This month, she was pictured at the wedding of her ex-boyfriend Edward Spencer-Churchill, along with fellow guest Moss.
The former model was beautiful, wealthy and privileged but did not have an easy life: She was severely dyslexic and left school at 16, the same year she was attacked and beaten during a trip to Australia. She said she became addicted to heroin as a result of the trauma and subsequent reconstructive surgery she had to have following the attack. She later kicked her heroin habit.
Three years ago, she broke her back and pelvis in a riding accident while training on her racehorse and took months to recover from it.
It was her relationship with McQueen, though, that defined her career, and she often described the designer, who committed suicide in 2010, as her best friend and soul mate. During the designer’s memorial service that year at St. Paul’s Cathedral, she was among the speakers, who also included Anna Wintour and Suzy Menkes.
She talked about taking long walks on the beach with McQueen and his dogs, and also admitted that her friend of 18 years could be “a little tricky” but that he was the best man she had ever known. “He was loved by so many,” she said, “but felt loved by so few.”
Neilson’s cause of death has not been confirmed, and there are no details yet of funeral or memorial services.
This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.