On the first official day of New York Fashion Week, the industry mourns one of its greatest talents. Alexander McQueen--Central St. Martins graduate, Isabella Blow prodigy and a true fashion icon--hanged himself. The Gucci Group, which owns the McQueen label, has confirmed this. The design star was found dead this morning in his London flat. He was 40.
The news has clearly shaken the fashion world as it gears up for one of its biggest annual moments. At the BCBG show, Vogue editor Anna Wintour was seen bolting out before the finale, likely having received the news via text.
It's certain that the tragedy will cast a dark shadow over the rest of the week. Naturally, a presentation for McQ, McQueen's lower-priced line, that was scheduled for today at 3, has been canceled. We previously reported that there was a chance the designer would be here in New York to present this collection.
McQueen sent hundreds of memorable looks down the runway. His Fall/Winter 2008 collection--a magical mix of crinoline, leather and lace--actually brought several editors to tears. My own experience at a McQueen show--the Spring 2010 collection, shown last fall in Paris--was a revelation. Before watching the hooved models stomp down the runway, I had never fully understood the importance of presenting a collection. For McQueen, the set, the images and the makeup were just as important as clothes. He created a new world that evening and elevated my understanding of what fashion really means.
The designer was said to be distraught over the loss of his mother, who passed away just days ago. He was also stirred by the forthcoming anniversary of the death of British fashion editor Isabella Blow, who discovered McQueen at his Central St. Martins graduate show in 1994.
McQueen's life was a sort of rags-to-riches story. He was the son of a London taxi driver who left school at age 16 for apprenticeships with a pair of preeminent British tailors. From there, his ascent took him to the Givenchy, where he caused controversy by shaking up the couture label. In 2001, he sold his own label to Gucci Group.