Too Soon

Celebrity Stylist Annabel Tollman Dead at Thirty-Nine

Ben Gabbe/Getty,Ben Gabbe

Celebrity and fashion stylist Annabel Tollman has passed away at the age of 39. Tollman was long considered an institution in the fashion industry, having worked with A-listers such as Scarlett Johansson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Mariah Carey. She formerly served as Interview magazine’s fashion director and as a spokesperson for eBay Fashion. A representative for the NYPD confirmed to The Daily Beast that on Wednesday afternoon at around 4:30 pm “police responded to a report of a wellness check,” inside of Tollman’s West Village apartment. Upon arrival officers found Tollman “unconscious and unresponsive.” EMS officers were called to the scene and pronounced her dead upon arrival. The NYPD spokesperson noted that it “appears she died of natural causes.”

Aside from her signature old Hollywood style, Tollman (an English national) was best known for her effusive, bubbly personality—one that gained her a large network of close-knit friends. She was often regarded as an industry anomaly—a person of genuine kindness and sincerity. In the hours after the public learned of her untimely death, Tollman’s Facebook page became a digital memorial, with many fashion luminaries including Prabal Gurung and Ariel Foxman posting grieving words of remembrance on to her wall. By press time, however, these messages had been blocked from the public domain.

In phone conversations with The Daily Beast on Friday afternoon, many of Tollman’s friends were dumbfounded and shocked, all expressing a deep sense of sadness. “The whole thing is unbelievable and unexpected,” said Tollman’s friend and Nylon magazine’s style editor-at-large Dani Stahl. “She was a wonderful person.” In a teary phone call, Paper magazine’s editorial director Mickey Boardman said, “she was just a really good girl, the sweetest, the nicest. She was the kind of girl your mother would meet and really like.” Echoing the same sorrow, Annelise Peterson, director of client relations and special projects for Net-a-Porter, a longtime friend of Tollman’s, said “it’s such a loss, she was iconic, she lit up a room.” When asked about Tollman’s career legacy, Peterson explained, “I think this is more of a wakeup call. It’s not about work, but being there for each other. You never know, she was so young and so beautiful and unique. It’s devastating.”

In the last few years, Tollman’s work was best defined by her many celebrity clients, each of whom she dressed with a personalized spin. “A lot of the time stylists pull dresses to see what will fit on a girl, but that was not what Annabel was about,” said Christos Garkinos, co-owner of Los Angeles premiere vintage retailer Decades, who worked with Tollman on a regular basis. “She had her own style.” In 2011, Tollman’s work earned her the accolade of being named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s top 25 Hollywood celebrity stylists. Boardman feels that Tollman stood out because “she wasn’t so full of shit like a celebrity stylist can be sometimes. She was just a really great person and had great style. And as it is often with British people she had historical context. She wasn’t a shallow fashion person.”

Another benchmark in Tollman’s career was her work as Interview magazine’s first-ever fashion director—a position she held until 2008. On Friday, the title’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Mooallem, issued a statement on Interview’s behalf, saying, “There aren’t really words to describe how heartbroken we all are to have learned this morning of the passing of our friend and colleague Annabel Tollman. Anyone who got to know Annabel or to work with her or who just had the good fortune to be in her presence knows what a kind, generous, joyful person she was, and how those qualities, which always managed to find their way into her work, radiated from her every minute of every day. Our thoughts right now are with her family.”

Tollman’s family released a statement on Friday after the tragedy. “We thank you all for honoring our beloved Annabel. Her beauty, spirit and love will remain in our hearts always,” it read. “At this time, there is not confirmation of what caused this tragedy and we ask that you respect Annabel's privacy, legacy and honor and continue to think of her her just as she was, perfect in every way. When we have news to share regarding memorial services and celebrating her life, we will be sure to make an announcement.”

A spokesperson in the New York City medical examiner’s office confirmed to The Daily Beast that an autopsy performed on Friday had proven “inconclusive” and that further tests will be required to determine Tollman’s exact cause of death.