celebrity

"Dad has died, darling." While Trinny Woodall was offering advice to thousands, her own life was unravelling.

This article deals with an account of suicide and miscarriage that could be triggering for some readers. 

In the 2000s, women around the world turned to Trinny Woodall and her bestie Susannah Constantine for advice.

The women, and their brutally honest feedback, were beamed into the living rooms of families around the world from 2001, when their makeover show What Not To Wear debuted.

It quickly became a cultural phenomenon and Trinny and Susannah cemented themselves as pop culture icons.

But when they weren’t on our TV screens in What Not To Wear and their other TV shows, when they weren’t styling women and sharing their harsh, but loving, opinions, the women were dealing with the many ups and downs of their own lives.

Trinny Woodall gets candid on Mamamia’s No Filter. Post continues below audio.

One half of the duo, Trinny, sat down with Mamamia‘s No Filter to share more about what went on in her life during those years.

In 1999, Trinny married musician turned company director, Johnny Elichaoff.

She’s spoken previously about realising in her mid-30s that she wanted to have a baby, and the fertility issues she faced.

In 2017, she told This Morning she had suffered two miscarriages and went through nine rounds of IVF.

“The second time I did [IVF], I was successful and then I lost that baby, quite late. Then I got pregnant again and then I lost that, so I had a few times of feeling ‘I’m pregnant’, then not being pregnant,” she said.

While on a Oscars red carpet, Trinny recalled how she started bleeding and feared she was having a third miscarriage.

“That was my lowest point,” she said. “I remember flying back [to the UK] and I went to straight to the hospital. [The doctor] had a little mini [ultrasound] and he put it on and it was [the heartbeat] and she was alive.”

Trinny and Johnny’s daughter, Lyla, was born on October 28, 2003.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Lyla sweetest 16 – happy birthday darling bunny @lylaelichaoff

A post shared by T R I N N Y (@trinnywoodall) on

ADVERTISEMENT

After 10 years of marriage, Trinny divorced Johnny in 2008. They remained good friends until tragically, Johnny took his own life in November 2014.

Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter, Trinny recalled how she told Lyla, who was 10 at the time, about her father’s death.

“I had [help from] an amazing woman named Julia Samuel who has written some incredible books on grief, really amazing and she’s very well-known in England for helping people through that period,” Trinny explained.

“When Johnny died, my sister came around – so the police came to tell me and my sister came round, Lyla was at school – so by the time she came back from school there were some other people in the house. My sister called Julia and said ‘Can you come round?’. So Julia came round and came to talk to me and she said ‘Just for now, tell [Lyla] he had a heart attack in his head.’

“So [Lyla] came back and she couldn’t understand why there were people in the house. I knew I had to get her upstairs, and I wanted to get her upstairs in the bed. So we laid down in bed and she said ‘What is it, what is it?’, you know, that sort of sensing.

“I said ‘Dad has died, darling’ and she screamed like an animal. The whole house heard it, and the friends of mine who were in the house just remember that. They all remember that animal scream.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Always in my heart ❤️ @lylaelichaoff @zakelichaoff

A post shared by T R I N N Y (@trinnywoodall) on

ADVERTISEMENT


Lyla didn’t initially ask what happened and Trinny had to navigate how to explain the situation.

“I just sort of said, ‘He fell and then he had a heart attack in his head’. Then slowly over a few months, she kind of found out a bit and then I told her a bit more,” she said.

Of course, Trinny and her family were popular tabloid material at this time and she was “really worried” that Lyla would find out details from the press.

“I remember I called up the editor of the newspaper and I said ‘Look, please just don’t,’ because I wasn’t ready for her to understand he’d killed himself. I said ‘Please don’t print he killed himself’… Can you please do that because I don’t want her to see anything?

“I felt immeasurably protective that I would in my own time decide how I would tell her what had happened and I didn’t want that not to be in my control.”

But even so, Trinny knew not to lie to her daughter.

“Julia was really, ‘You need to tell her honestly, straight up’, and I want to protect her but I understand if you tell the story incorrectly at the beginning the profound effect in a few years when a child is lied to and then discovers something else is more disturbing. Navigating something you’ve never had to navigate in your life before is very difficult.”

trinny woodall
Lyla and Trinny in September 2019. Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

"I'm very protective of her," Trinny told host Mia Freedman.

"She's very wise and what I find staggeringly surprising - I come from one of six children and I'm the youngest child from two marriages and I grew up with a lot of insecurities - and Lyla is, she has an older brother but he's 10 years older, a half-brother, so she's grown up sort of as an only child.

"I might say to her 'Do you feel okay about this?' and she'll say 'I feel great'... I look at her in awe because I know that overwhelming arch of her own life. I go 'thank you God, or whoever', that she's feeling okay about herself and that she loves life and she has friends and she feels normal."

Trinny was already with her partner Charles Saatchi when Johnny died, but she explained how she worked through her grief.

"I wasn't with Johnny anymore, I was already with the person I'm with now, but we were good friends and there were times in Johnny's life when he wasn't that well, he suffered from addiction. When he was well, he was like my best friend and when he wasn't well, I wanted to protect Lyla tremendously from that," she said.

"When he's well he's such a great guy and very loved and the father of my child. I think grief, however somebody dies, there are those traditional, classic stages of grief and you know, you go through pain, anger, you go through lots of things and you do get to a stage of acceptance.

"With suicide, you might think it's a harder way to get to a place of acceptance, but I know there was nothing I could've done to stop him. I think that's something a lot of people struggle with."

She spoke of the irony of a piece of advice Johnny had once given her, that has stuck with her for life.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Johnny would always say to me, 'Trinny, 99 per cent of everything you worry about never happens' and I used that so much in my life because it's such a good bit of advice.

"Ironically, the one person who told me that was that one per cent. Whenever Lyla was upset I'd say 'What did dada say, darling. He'd say '99 per cent of everything, you shouldn't worry about because it never happens'."

Trinny also spoke of her and Susannah's decision to go their separate ways, career-wise. Trinny had long had a desire to start her own brand and now runs her beauty brand Trinny London.

She said that when they parted, she "felt ready".

trinny woodall the project
Trinny and Susannah. Image: Getty.

At 55, Trinny says she's content at this stage in her life.

"My 20s was my hardest decade... the torment, the turmoil, the relationships, the friendship breakups," she said.

"30s was discovering my career, 40s was becoming a mother and complicated relationships."

And now, in her 50s?

"[My] 50s is feeling streamlined in what I want in my life," she said.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.

00:00 / ???