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Alexander McQueen dies at 40: A Fashion Community in Shock

February 11, 2010 - 10:56 pm

Lee Alexander McQueen was found dead in his London home today. Shock and awe is pouring out of New York at the moment, as Mercedes-Benz fashion week kicked off today as well.  Upon hearing the news this morning, editors left the BCBG show simply devastated. International fashion weeks are still scheduled, but rumors of special tributes to the designer at London Fashion Week have already started. McQueen was not slated to display a new collection in London this season. No word yet on whether another designer will take on the creative director post at the house of McQueen or if the label will be discontinued. Pundits have already predicted that the label may weaken under the current economy and not be able to withstand the market without McQueen himself and his extraordinary design talent. Critics have also said that the fashion house may be abandoned by Gucci Group, its owner in Italy. While you can still view and purchase items on the U.S. online shop, his dynamic designs and look book have been replaced on the main Alexander McQueen website, with a chilling splash page and a statement from the McQueen fashion house:

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“On behalf of Lee McQueen’s family, Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand has been found dead at his home. At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee’s family. Lee’s family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media will respect this.”

McQueen has dazzled the world over with his brilliant design sense and penchant for the dramatic. Son of an English cab driver and social studies teacher and the youngest of six children; McQueen was a diamond in the rough. Nicknamed the l’enfant terrible (French for a rebellious child) his designs were as New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn put it in the March 2010 issue of Vanity Fair: far from the “desperate silk swags” on catwalks of late. His impeccably tailored work took fashion to another level: his work was whimsical, theatrical and season after season he created breathtaking runway shows. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II herself made him a Commander of the British Empire in 2003 for his work and contribution to British fashion. He has also been a designer who has changed the way we view fashion and technology together, and was able to blend the two seamlessly (read: “Plato’s Atlantis” for Spring-Summer 2010). For me, personally, it was even more ironic to find out about his death via text from friends, and to see the first confirmed reports via YouTube.

Right out of school, the Central Saint Martins graduate sent shocks of promise through the fashion community, making fast friends with quirky hat-wearer and fashion socialite Isabella Blow who became his best supporter and confidant. She later committed suicide in May 2007. Rumors of an argument between McQueen and Blow painted the relationship with controversy, with much of the accusations focused on McQueen around the time of Blow’s passing and his alleged disregard for Blow’s support over the years. McQueen flatly denied the gossip.

According to the BBC, the recent death of his mother (her funeral is scheduled for February 12) was taking a huge toll on the designer.  He wrote about his mother’s passing on his Twitter page (which has since been shut down). After his mother’s death he followed his previous posts with “RIP mumxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.” He posted other messages that showed signs of him slowly recovering from his own tragic loss after having an “awful week.” He added: “Now I have to some how pull myself together.” The anniversary of Blow’s death is also just a few months away.

*video: Associated Press


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  • Jules

    So sad. A design genius! I knew to come here first for the breaking news. Good job G.

  • Diana

    It truly is so terrible and I'm not sure, as your article mentioned, if the house can go on without him.