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Jo Ferguson dead: Inside the troubled world of Sydney stylist

The death of 46-year-old celebrity stylist Jo Ferguson on Wednesday of suspected liver and kidney failure has shocked many in Australia’s media and entertainment industries. 

For while the socialite had quit the Sydney party scene and moved to Adelaide in recent years, many still remembered her from her days as regular fixture of Sydney’s party scene. 

From her romance with long-time Seven presenter and celebrity carpenter Tom Williams to abruptly quitting her job as the fashion director of Woman’s Day in 2011, Jo’s life had it’s share of ups and downs. 

But it was a devastating accident in 2016 that friends say led to her sad decline. 

Tragic: The death of 46-year-old celebrity stylist Jo Ferguson on Wednesday of suspected liver and kidney failure has left the media industry in ‘shock’. Pictured on December 6, 2007

Jo dated Tom Williams for several years before splitting in 2003. It’s unclear what caused their break-up. 

Tom declined to talk about any of his ex-girlfriends in a lengthy profile by journalist Steve Dow in 2005. However, Jo was approached for comment for the feature.

Jo said at the time: ‘We broke up two years ago, and I’ve got a new boyfriend now. It was a time in our lives, and it’s not that time now.’

She was reluctant to discuss Tom out of fear she would be misquoted by reporters.

‘It was a time in our lives, and it’s not that time now,’ she said. ‘[Journalists] always print something I didn’t say, like I am in love with him, which is not true, and not fair.’

High-profile romance: Jo dated television presenter Tom Williams (pictured) for several years until 2003. It's unclear what caused their break-up

High-profile romance: Jo dated television presenter Tom Williams (pictured) for several years until 2003. It’s unclear what caused their break-up

Brief: 'It was a time in our lives, and it's not that time now,' Jo said of her relationship with Tom in 2005. Pictured in April 2008 from left to right: Jo, David Gyngell, Tom and Kylie Spear

Brief: ‘It was a time in our lives, and it’s not that time now,’ Jo said of her relationship with Tom in 2005. Pictured in April 2008 from left to right: Jo, David Gyngell, Tom and Kylie Spear

She then started a relationship with high-flying Sydney banker, Angus McGeoch, for several years – with the pair even buying a house together on Sydney’s exclusive north shore. 

But their split in 2007 left her in a bad way.

Jo took the break up hard, losing weight and ‘crying so much her eyelashes fell out’, she was quoted as telling The Daily Telegraph at the time.

But it was about this time that Jo started to mingled with Sydney’s fashion elite, even being a bridesmaid at model Kristy Hinze’s wedding to American tech billionaire Jim Clark in 2009.

In 2011, she abruptly quit her job as fashion director at Woman’s Day magazine in bizarre fashion – allegedly resigning by email at 4:30pm on a Friday, giving her employers zero notice, and leaving with immediate effect.

Abrupt exit: In 2011, Jo quit her job as fashion director at Woman's Day magazine via email at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon, leaving with immediate effect. Pictured on December 28, 2008

Abrupt exit: In 2011, Jo quit her job as fashion director at Woman’s Day magazine via email at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon, leaving with immediate effect. Pictured on December 28, 2008

The life and times of Jo Ferguson

  • 1974: Born in Adelaide
  • Early 2000s: Makes a name for herself in the Sydney social set working for magazines such as Woman’s Day and Cleo
  • 2003: Breaks up with TV host Tom Williams after dating for several years
  • 2007: She’s left heartbroken after splitting from boyfriend Angus McGeoch 
  • 2008: Leaves Cleo magazine to work for Woman’s Day  
  • 2009: Bridesmaid at model Kristy Hinze’s wedding to billionaire Jim Clark 
  • 2011: She resigns as fashion director of Woman’s Day 
  • 2012: Jo goes on to style stars such as Rihanna and Taylor Swift
  • 2016: Horror fall leads to three blood transfusions and near-death experience
  • 2016: Leaves Sydney party scene and returns to Adelaide amid health battle
  • 2019: Suffering with constant nausea and feeling faint as health worsens 
  • January 2020: Diagnosed with blood poisoning following fall in 2016
  • March 2020: Discharged from hospital after being put on life support
  • April 2020: Died of suspected liver and kidney failure on April 8

 

But the decision to leave Women’s Day hardly hurt her career, as she went on to style some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Duffy and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas.

This was until a near-death experience in 2016 saw her withdraw completely from the spotlight. The accident was so bad, she had complications for years, leading to an almost constant battle with ill-health.

She described what happened in a Facebook post in 2016, writing: ‘I slipped and fell down 27 stairs at my apartment at 8:20am on a Sunday and knocked myself out immediately, gashing my temple on the stairs and losing four litres of blood. 

‘I’d been unconscious for five hours when a friend found me and called the ambulance. I ended up needing three blood transfusions and 38 stitches to the head. I was told I was 20 minutes from death due to the blood loss.’

After this accident, she left Sydney and returned to Adelaide to be closer to her family. 

Stylist: Jo had no shortage of A-list clients and friends. Pictured with Miranda Kerr on September 13, 2007 in Sydney

Stylist: Jo had no shortage of A-list clients and friends. Pictured with Miranda Kerr on September 13, 2007 in Sydney

Setback: Jo spent years dressing some of the biggest names in Hollywood, before a near-death experience in 2016 saw her withdraw from the spotlight. Pictured on December 15, 2010

Setback: Jo spent years dressing some of the biggest names in Hollywood, before a near-death experience in 2016 saw her withdraw from the spotlight. Pictured on December 15, 2010

In January, Jo revealed she had been hospitalised with blood poisoning due to a complication from a blood transfusion following the 2016 incident. 

She told The Sydney Morning Herald she had been given the wrong blood type, which caused years of nausea and lightheadedness.

‘They gave me B-positive and I am A-positive. I had 9.1 litres poisonous blood drained from my body, I was close to death and said I had six months to live,’ she said.

She was placed on life support in March, only to be discharged and then readmitted.

While in and out of her hospital this year, Jo claimed that many of her personal belongings had been stolen.

Following her discharge from hospital last month, she wrote on Facebook: ‘After being placed on life support a week ago how the body reacts is amazing. Did someone say coronavirus? Wait until you are really sick to cry wolf.’ 

Battle: Jo had three blood transfusions after falling down 27 stairs and nearly dying in 2016. In January, she revealed she'd been given the wrong type of blood, resulting in blood poisoning

Battle: Jo had three blood transfusions after falling down 27 stairs and nearly dying in 2016. In January, she revealed she’d been given the wrong type of blood, resulting in blood poisoning

Jo’s brother, Scott, announced her death on Thursday.

He told The Daily Telegraph: ‘I’d hate for her life to simply slip past now as there were deeper issues that should be addressed, if only to help people in similar situations and prevent others from premature death.’ 

She died in the early hours of Wednesday morning from suspected liver and kidney failure.

'Wait until you are really sick': Jo uploaded this Facebook post on March 19 when she was in and out of hospital. She died away on Wednesday from suspected liver and kidney failure

‘Wait until you are really sick’: Jo uploaded this Facebook post on March 19 when she was in and out of hospital. She died away on Wednesday from suspected liver and kidney failure

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk