One of Britain’s most talented designers appears to have killed himself.
Fashion designer Alexander McQueen has been found dead at his London home, aged only 40. Initial reports indicate that he committed suicide.
McQueen’s mother died only days ago and he appears to have been overwhelmed by grief. It was also known that he was badly affected by the death of his close friend and mentor Isabella Blow some three years ago. Blow famously bought his entire graduate collection when he left Central St Martin’s – an accolade that kick-started his career.
It is always tragic when a person dies before their time, and when they have so much to live for and die by their own hand, the feeling of shock is only compounded. McQueen, after all, seemed to lead a life that most of us can only dream of.
It is a great loss to the fashion industry as well as a personal tragedy for his family for McQueen was prodigiously talented, with many years of designing life left in him.
He stood out in the fashion world because he was so very working class, an image he played up to at first but gradually outgrew as he gained in confidence. The son of a taxi driver, he made no bones about his origins but went on to become a four-time winner of the British designer of the year award, head of Givenchy, owner of a string of boutiques around the world and – presumably – a millionaire.
He was awarded the CBE in 2003 for services to the fashion industry.
Although many obits will doubtless concentrate on his shocking clothes, often sent down the runway on bare-breasted models, I will remember him as a really superb tailor who, like Galliano, never had any problem translating his ideas into garments that could be worn on the body.
He learned those skills in Saville Row and later in Milan before coming to designing studies later in life – he applied for a job as a pattern cutter at Central St Martin’s and was asked to enroll when they spotted his portfolio. That college knows talent when it sees it, and the rest is history.
RIP Lee Alexander McQueen.