Stella Tennant took her own life after struggling with mental health problems, her family have revealed.
In their first public comments since announcing her death, the supermodel’s family paid tribute to the "beautiful soul" whose "creativity, intelligence and humour touched so many".
They have revealed that she had been "unwell for some time" and felt "unable to go on".
Tennant, famous for her androgynous style, was found dead at her home in Scotland on December 22, days after her 50th birthday.
It is understood that investigations have now been completed and it has been concluded that she took her own life.
Since news of her death emerged, the great and the good of the fashion world have paid tribute to Tennant, one of the original 90s supermodels who was a muse to both Karl Lagerfeld and Gianni Versace.
Stella Tennant and Naomi Campbell are pictured with designer Karl Lagerfeld in 1997
Credit: Gareth Watkins/Reuters
Her family told The Telegraph in a statement: "We have been humbled by the outpouring of messages of sympathy and support since Stella died.
"She was a beautiful soul, adored by a close family and good friends, a sensitive and talented woman whose creativity, intelligence and humour touched so many.
"Stella had been unwell for some time. So it is a matter of our deepest sorrow and despair that she felt unable to go on, despite the love of those closest to her. In grieving Stella’s loss, her family renews a heartfelt request that respect for their privacy should continue."
A source close to the family said they were considering ways in which the tragedy could have positive repercussions, adding: "They feel it’s important to raise awareness around mental health, as far too often it is misunderstood."
The granddaughter of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, Andrew Cavendish, and Deborah Mitford, the youngest of the notorious Mitford sisters, Tennant rose to fame in the early 1990s after her first shoot made the cover of British Vogue.
Initially reluctant to join the "big, shallow world" of fashion, she said she realised it was "a good idea to say yes" as her sculpture was unlikely to pay the bills.
During an illustrious career she became the face of Chanel and modelled for Alexander McQueen. She was among the models picked to represent the British fashion industry during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
But unlike Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, alongside whom appeared alongside, Tennant eschewed the celebrity lifestyle for a quiet life in the Scottish borders with her husband, the Paris-born photographer David Lasnet, and their four children.
Stella Tennant and David Lasnet married at a parish church in the Scottish Borders in 1999
Neighbours have said that she was "the very opposite of a social butterfly", keeping chickens, growing her own vegetables and enjoying embroidery. It was revealed in August that she and Mr Lasnet, who had retrained as an osteopath, had separated after more than 20 years together.
He was reported to have moved out of their 18th century house near Duns, in the Scottish Borders, into a mews property the couple owned in Edinburgh.
Tennant is survived by her parents Tobias Tennant, the son of Lord Glenconner, and Lady Emma Cavendish, daughter of the Duke of Devonshire, her husband and their four children who are now in their teens and twenties.
If you or anyone you know needs someone to talk to, contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit the Samaritans. If someone is in immediate danger of taking their own life, ring 999