In a tragic start to New York Fashion Week, supremely talented 40-year-old British fashion designer Alexander McQueen was found dead today at his apartment in London. He reportedly committed suicide.
The openly gay and fiercely private McQueen was widely acknowledged to be one of the most innovative and creative designers working today, known for just going balls-out with his designs and collections (the models in his 1995 "Highland Rape" collection—which represented the "rape" of Scotland by the British—looked like they had Tampon strings coming out of their ripped lace dresses). He wanted to name a 1998 show "Golden Shower" but ended up changing it to "Untitled" under pressure from the show's sponsor, American Express.
But he was much more than a provocative stuntman. His designs were worn by everyone from Lady Gaga (who wore his amazing lobster claw shoes with the 10-inch heels in her video for "Bad Romance") and Cyndi Lauper to his very close friend, the fashion writer and icon Isabella Blow, whose suicide in 2007 deeply affected him (the Daily Mail goes so far as to imply that he never got over her death); he dedicated his spring 2008 show at Paris Fashion Week to Blow. He met Blow as a graduate student at London's famed Central St. Martins, where she reportedly saw his designs in a grad student show in 1994 and tracked him down at his mother's house.
After graduating, he established his own label, but was named head designer at Givenchy in 1996 (his predecessor was John Galliano). In 2000, Gucci Group bought 51 percent of McQueen's label. Indeed, he had a shrewd commercial sense, designing a collection for Target and doing a sport line for Puma, in addition to his "high fashion" work.
The NYT's Moment blog's Twitter says that McQueen's New York Fashion Week show is still on, but The Cut is reporting that the show for his lower-priced line McQ, scheduled for today, has been canceled.
We've compiled some photos of some of McQueen's most memorable runway looks, as well as some of the Famous People who liked his clothes. (One image is a teensy bit NSFW.)