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Truly sad news out of the UK today: Alexander McQueen, the famous British fashion designer, was found dead at his home at the age of 40 today. The Daily Mail, which broke the story, reports, “The [fashion] industry was left reeling after the 40-year-old’s suicide this morning, which comes just days after the death of his beloved mother, Joyce. It is also just three years since his close friend, Isabella Blow – who plucked him from obscurity and helped him become a star – killed herself. McQueen, who was christened Lee but used his middle name for his label, was found at his luxury flat in Mayfair, central London. It is believed he hanged himself.”
McQueen’s official site has a message from his family about the tragic news. BBC NEWS has opened a forum for people to share their memories of McQueen, and tributes from celebrities who knew the designer are pouring in.
As a designer to the stars, McQueen was responsible for some of the most striking red-carpet looks over the past 15 years. Here’s a sampling of his work:
• Sarah Jessica Parker at the London premiere of Sex and the City.
• Gwen Stefani in Alexander McQueen leggings, carrying her young son.
• Victoria Beckham‘s infamous “hypnotic” dress.
• Emma Watson and Naomi Campbell wearing the same McQueen gown at different events.
• Penelope Cruz and Dita von Teese wearing the same McQueen pencil dress.
• Sandra Bullock at the 2010 SAG Awards.
• Fergie at the American Idol season finale in 2009.
• Rihanna on It’s On With Alexa Chung.
• Rihanna at the UK premiere of Inglourious Basterds.
• Nicole Kidman for a Vogue photoshoot.
• Nicole Kidman with husband Keith Urban at the 2007 Country Music Awards.
• Madonna at the 1998 MTV VMAs and a 2005 Vogue photo shoot.
• Lady Gaga wearing McQueen’s “lobster heels” in her “Bad Romance” video.
• Björk at Fashion Rocks 2003.
Björk and McQueen had a long-standing collaborative relationship. He designed the cover for her classic album, Homogenic, and directed the video for her single, “Alarm Call”:
Perhaps McQueen’s most spectacular moment was the staging of his 2006 Paris fashion show, which featured a virtual Kate Moss as a ghost-like figure on the runway:
Moss, a close friend of McQueen, has released a statement about McQueen’s death: “Kate is shocked and devastated at the tragic loss of her dear friend Lee McQueen. Her thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
McQueen was also an innovator in men’s fashion. Here’s the show for his 2010/2011 fall/winter men’s collection, which is distinctive in its use of prints:
Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.