Lucy Birley

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Lucy Birley
Lucy Helmore

(1959-09-18)18 September 1959 or
(1960-09-18)18 September 1960
Shropshire, England
Died23 July 2018(2018-07-23) (aged 57) or
23 July 2018(2018-07-23) (aged 58)
Other namesLucy Ferry
OccupationModel, photographer
(m. 1982; div. 2003)

(m. 2006; died 2018)
  • Patrick Helmore (father)
RelativesOtis Ferry (son)

Lucy Margaret Mary Birley (formerly Ferry; née Helmore; 18 September 1959/1960 – 23 July 2018)[1][2][citation needed] was a British model, photographer, and socialite.[3][4]


Birley was born in Shropshire and raised in Kensington[5][6] She was the daughter of Mary (née Hull) and Patrick Helmore, an underwriter at the Lloyd's of London insurance corporation.[6][7]

She attended convent school and began fox-hunting at the age of twelve.[4]

She left home at seventeen and moved in with several friends, including actor Rupert Everett.[6]


Birley (then Helmore) began her career as a fashion model in her late teens.[6] She worked with many noted photographers, including Steven Meisel and Robert Mapplethorpe.[4] Her distinctive sense of style influenced designers such as Christian Lacroix, Manolo Blahnik and Philip Treacy.[8]

In May 1982, she was photographed wearing a medieval helmet and holding a falcon at Crumlin Lodge, outside of Inverin, Connemara for the cover of Roxy Music's album Avalon.[6][8]

As a photographer she worked solely with manual cameras and favored a twin-lens Rolleiflex camera. Birley developed her own film and exhibited her work in London.[4] Some of her subjects were Damien Hirst and Isabella Blow.[4]

Private life[edit]

She began dating Bryan Ferry after his girlfriend Jerry Hall left him for Mick Jagger.[4] Ferry was fourteen years her senior.[6]

On 26 June 1982, at the age of twenty two she married Bryan Ferry at the Church of St Anthony and St George at Duncton, West Sussex.[6] They had four sons: Otis, Isaac, Tara, and Merlin.[2] They divorced on 31 March 2003.[6]

She battled alcoholism, substance dependency and depression.[6] In the 1990s, Birley attended Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous to help recover from addiction.

In October 2006, she married Robin Birley, son of Mark Birley and Lady Annabel Goldsmith.[9]


She died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on 23 July 2018, aged 58, while on holiday in Ireland following what was described by her brother Ed Helmore as "a long battle with depression".[10] Her husband announced her death in a joint statement with her children: "On Monday Lucy Birley (nee Helmore) passed away whilst on holiday in Ireland, surrounded by her beloved dogs, Daisy, Peg and Daphne. Her husband Robin, and her sons – Otis, Isaac, Tara and Merlin – are understandably devastated and request that their privacy be respected during this difficult time".[2]

Birley's ashes were scattered at her mother's grave in County Clare, Ireland.[6]


  1. ^ "Lucy Birley: Model, photographer and pro-hunting campaigner". The Independent. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Powell, Tom (24 July 2018). "Bryan Ferry's ex-wife Lucy Birley dies on holiday aged 58". Evening Standard.
  3. ^ "Lucy Birley, model, socialite and former wife of Bryan Ferry, dies at 58". Tatler. 18 July 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Day, Elizabeth (15 May 2011). "Lucy Birley: 'I didn't want to be put in the spotlight'". The Observer. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  5. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Egan, Barry (29 July 2018). "A sad farewell to the loveliest girl". Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  7. ^ "Inquest hears of lodge blaze death". The Irish Times. 6 February 1998. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Faces of the week". BBC NEWS. 24 September 2004.
  9. ^ Betts, Hannah (26 July 2018). "The sadness of the gilded society Set". The Daily Telegraph. pp. 21–22.
  10. ^ Obituary: Lucy Birley: Model, photographer and pro-hunting campaigner The Independent 31 July 2018