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PARIS — Lee Alexander McQueen, one of the most acclaimed and incendiary designers of his generation, was found dead at his London home on Thursday. He was 40.
Sources described the death as a suicide by hanging. London’s Metropolitan Police said the death is not being treated as suspicious, but a spokesman said, "We would not speculate on the cause of death before a postmortem. Next of kin have been informed, but we await formal identification.”
The disappearance of one of fashion’s brightest lights and consummate showmen will surely cast a shadow on the international collections as they get under way in New York this week. McQueen’s show, scheduled for March 9 at La Conciergerie Paris, would have been among the last of the fall season.
The London-born McQueen’s death unleashed a torrent of shock and anguish from designers, retailers and others in the fashion world. “In a world where every man and his dog is a designer, Alexander McQueen was the real deal,” said Milliner Philip Treacy, who created fantastical hats for the designer’s shows. “His talent was supersonic.”
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“McQueen was daring, original, exciting,” said John Galliano. “He shook up the establishment with his creativity and understood what it takes to be a great British ambassador for fashion. I admired him very much. He was a fashion revolutionary that, like me, made the journey from [Central] Saint Martins to Paris where he put his own unique mark on the industry. He will not be forgotten.” “It’s a loss for the fashion industry,” said Karl Lagerfeld, who didn’t know McQueen personally, but appreciated his designs. “His story was one of success and talent, but that may not be enough to keep you alive.” “I am really saddened by Lee’s passing on a human level, but also on the artistic one,” said Jean Paul Gaultier. “A great talent has left us and we will miss him and everything that he has done for fashion.”
McQueen’s death came only nine days after the designer revealed via Twitter that his mother, Joyce, had passed away. Her funeral had been scheduled for today, according to a McQueen spokesman. A recent convert to new media, who live-streamed his last women’s show, McQueen had recently tweeted: “sunday evening been a ----ing awful week but my friends have been great but now i have to some how pull myself together and finish with the…”
Details about funeral services were not available at press time. He is survived by his father and five sisters. The McQueen company issued a statement, saying, “We are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee’s family.” It added, “Lee’s family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news.”
PPR, parent of Gucci Group and McQueen, called him “one of the greatest fashion designers of his generation. His genius, sometimes provocative, constantly brought new perspectives.” It added that François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of PPR, “would like to pay tribute not only to the man, but also to a friend for whom he felt respect, admiration and affection.”