Alexander McQueen suicide on eve of mother's funeral

ALEXANDER McQueen, one of the world's most successful fashion designers, killed himself on the eve of his mother's funeral, which was to take place in the east end of London today.

• Alexander McQueen, pictured here arriving at an event with Sarah Jessica Parker, has been found dead. Picture: Getty

The 40-year-old, whose wild creations delighted critics and clothed the world's most glamorous women, was said to have been devastated by the death of his mother on 2 February. He had admitted to having trouble dealing with her death, but said he was committed to moving on with his life.

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McQueen was found hanged at his flat in Green Street, in London's Mayfair, shortly after 10am yesterday. Paramedics were called, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Speculation mounted last night that he had been unable to come to terms with the death of his mother, Joyce.

His death comes three years after his close friend and mentor, Isabella Blow, a magazine editor and style icon, took her own life with poison.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the designer said: "Mr McQueen was found dead this morning at his home. We're devastated."

Tributes poured in from the fashion world as news of McQueen's death spread.

Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, said: "Lee McQueen influenced a whole generation of designers. His brilliant imagination knew no bounds as he conjured up collection after collection of extraordinary designs.

"At one level he was a master of the fantastic, creating astounding fashion shows that mixed design, technology and performance, and on another he was a modern-day genius whose gothic aesthetic was adopted by women the world over.

"His death is the hugest loss to anyone who knew him and for very many who didn't."

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Designer Katharine Hamnett said: "He was a genius. What a terrible, tragic waste."

Dame Vivienne Westwood was "incredibly sorry" to hear the news.

Fashion designer Matthew Williamson said: "I am shocked and deeply saddened by McQueen's death. He was a genius and his talent was second to none. Like many others, I always cited him as a hugely inspirational leader of fashion. He will be greatly missed."

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: "Alexander McQueen made an outstanding contribution to British fashion.

"His extraordinary talent and creativity mean that his designs are adored not just by followers of haute couture, but lovers of great style everywhere. This is a great loss to one of Britain's most successful industries and to the design world more widely."

McQueen's death comes just days before London Fashion Week, which is due to open on 19 February, and as final preparations were being made to unveil a spring collection in Paris.

A British Fashion Council spokeswoman said: "We are deeply saddened at the news of Alexander McQueen's untimely death."

Yesterday afternoon, fans gathered outside McQueen's flat near Hyde Park and watched as his body, covered with a maroon blanket, was taken away in a private ambulance at 4:45pm.

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McQueen was one of six children born to a taxi driver. He left school at 16 and started his professional life as a tailor's apprentice on Savile Row, where his clients included the Prince of Wales and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last head of state of the USSR.

Although born in London, McQueen had a deep passion for Scotland, frequently using tartan in his work and taking inspiration from Scottish history.

Last night, the actress Helena Bonham Carter said: "It's absolutely tragic. What horrible news. It's just horrendous to think that someone was so devastated by his mother dying. I loved McQueen. Tim (Burton – her partner] did some drawings for one of his shows, did a shirt with him together.

"He had such lovely vision; originality comes quite hard these days – originality and success."

Victoria Beckham spoke of her sadness at the loss of a "creative genius" and said he would be "desperately missed".