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British stylist Annabel Tollman died Thursday at her apartment in New York City.
Tollman, who was understood to be in her late 30s, appears to have died of natural causes, according to a spokesman for the New York Police Department. Police officers were called to her West Village apartment around 5 p.m. Thursday. An autopsy is planned, but there appeared to be no signs of suspicious behavior, an NYPD spokesman said.
This story first appeared in the June 10, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tollman’s family declined comment Friday.
The Belgian-born, blonde Tollman was described by friends as approachable, lighthearted, hardworking and supremely aware of what was expected of stylists in America’s celebrity-driven pop culture in the throes of social media. She worked with celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Shakira and Mariah Carey. Johansson said Friday, “Annabel was the epitome of class and elegance, the English Rose personified. She celebrated the female figure and taught me how to dress the part of an independent, self-possessed and confident young lady, as she represented all of those qualities. I will miss her friendship deeply; she touched all of those that knew her with a warmth, intelligence, thoughtfulness, beauty and grace.”
Having first met Tollman 15 years ago at the men’s shows in Milan, Esquire’s fashion director, Nick Sullivan, said, “It was impossible to be unaware of her.”
Although they often rubbed elbows at various events over the past few years, they didn’t work together until 2011, when Tollman was tapped as a fashion stylist for Esquire’s Big Black Book. Her assignment was for a Phil Poynter shoot inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. “We needed her skills to dress our Duchess, and when I gave her the brief, she was off like a Titan rocket, brimming with explosive excitement for the story. On the day of the shoot, she far outdelivered on our expectations, with a passion and an attention to detail that makes the story still one of my all-time favorites. Not just for the pictures, but for the unforgettable day and the sheer unalloyed joy of working on set with someone so clever and enthusiastic. There was, ultimately, a delightful old-school glamour about Annabel that never seemed anything but innate. A real charmer.”
Tollman worked for publications such as Interview magazine, where she was once fashion director; Wallpaper, and The Daily Telegraph. Tyler Brûlé recalled meeting Tollman when she was a college student in London and recruiting her to write for his magazine Wallpaper. “I always thought she was a really great journalist,” he said. “Of course, she became known for being a stylist for women, but in her very early days, she was doing men’s wear as well.”
In 2010, she became a stylist and spokeswoman for eBay Fashion. More recently, in the past 18 months or so, she helped create videos for Calvin Klein Underwear’s Naked Glamour collection, served as an influencer for the consignment Web site Vaunte and as a brand ambassador for jewelry e-tailer Gemvara, among others.
Tollman once described her approach as “Make a fairy tale and go and live in it.”
In a 2010 interview, she said, “My whole way of thinking is, your life is almost like a movie, and you are costuming each day as you go.”