Sir Paul Smith has led the tributes to Alexander McQueen (born Lee Alexander McQueen) and his career, following the announcement of the British designer’s death earlier today.
More from: Obituary: Alexander McQueen
Smith told Drapers: “Obviously, like everyone, I am extremely shocked at this sad news. I have known Lee since his time at Central Saint Martins and gave him advice in the early part of his career. He was a very talented and creative designer, especially in respect of his tailored clothing. This is a very sad time and my thoughts are with his family.”
Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose, also a former chairman of the British Fashion Council, organiser of London Fashion Week, added: “I don’t know what to say. It’s very sad and it’s a tragic loss. He was a huge talent and my condolences go out to his family and friends. It’s a reminder of the fragility of life.”
Harold Tillman, current chairman of the BFC, told Drapers: “We are deeply saddened at the news of Alexander McQueen’s untimely death. He was a unique talent and one of the world’s greatest designers. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this sad time.”
“From the beginning he has astonished us with his vision and his energy. Our world will be a less beautiful place without him.”
Ann Pitcher, Selfridges
Designer retailers and stockists of the Alexander McQueen label led the tributes to the hugely talented British designer this afternoon.
Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director Harrods said in a statement to Drapers: “Alexander McQueen, one of the greatest talents to come out of Central Saint Martins, has become a British fashion icon. His eclectic and eccentric collections brought energy and attention to London and attending his shows was a fashion moment that you felt privileged to be part of. A creative genius, his dresses are works of art. Whether it was his sculpted silhouette, a statement clutch, or a signature skull print scarf, his designs are adored by women the world over. His death is a tragic loss to the fashion industry and his talent will be sorely missed.”
Anne Pitcher, buying director, Selfridges added:”We are all devastated at the loss of one of the most creative forces the fashion world has ever known. From the beginning he has astonished us with his vision and his energy. Our world will be a less beautiful place without him.”
Harvey Nichols buying director Averyl Oates told Drapers: “This is devastating news, he was an innovator and visionary. He has paved the way for taking a dream and making it a reality. Since his graduation he has touched every facet of the industry from Givenchy through to his own collection. We supported him from the beginning and Harvey Nichols has watched him grow to the fashion force that he has become today, he will be dearly missed.”
Liberty chief executive Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye said: “It is very sad. It has left us orphaned. He had such a future and he is a legend. I have always made a point of going to his shows and he was the best of the best. He was theatrical and emotional and very detailed. Beyond that he made a contribution to fashion and pioneered in a way which will mark the history of fashion. He had the eccentricity of the British and the style of a continental European.”
Joan Burstein, owner of designer independent Browns said: “It is a great loss, having been with us since the beginning, I am extremely sad to hear this news. We will mourn the loss of him and his growing talent.”
“He was a genius and his talent was second to none. Like many others I always cited him as a hugely inspirational leader of world fashion.”
Owner of designer independent Matches Tom Chapman said: “Lee was one of the greatest talents of our age, he broke boundaries, entranced the fashion world, and, from the outset, as a teenage Savile Row apprentice, recognised the impactful, intelligent statements that fashion can make.
“Everything he created, everything about him, was unique, brilliant and utterly inspirational. His tragic and untimely death is a devastating loss to the industry, leaving a terrible void. No one will ever be able to replace him - Britain has lost one of its most iconic and groundbreaking ambassadors. ”
Fellow British designers reacted with shock to the news of McQueen, who was born Lee Alexander McQueen before dropping his first name when he set up his own label.
Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey said:”I am truly shocked and saddened by this tragic news and my thoughts are with Lee’s family. Lee was one of Britain’s greatest designers and was an inspiration to so very many people. His unique vision, charm and warm character will be greatly missed by everybody who knew Lee and by everyone touched by his extraordinary talent.”
London Fashion Week designer Matthew Williamson told Drapers: “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 world fashion. He will be greatly missed.”
Vivienne Westwood said she was “incredibly sorry” at the news.
McQueen left London Fashion Week to show in Paris in the late 1990s.
“He’s completely irreplaceable and one of the real greats. He was an original, unique voice in fashion.”
The high street was also touched by the designer’s death.
Aurora Fashions chairman Derek Lovelock said: “McQueen was arguably the most talented, pioneering designer of our generation. He always pushed boundaries with his creativity, delivering artistic sensational fashion collections and shows that inspired the world. He also mentored, supported and encouraged young british designers. His creative calibre was unrivalled.”
Whistles chief executive Jane Shepherdson said: “I’m really shocked and it’s a terrible loss. He’s completely irreplaceable and one of the real greats. He was an original, unique voice in fashion.”
“His name still resonates through Savile Row and will continue to do so. He created such an awareness for the industry and his rise to fame gave increased notoriety to it, many people wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Karl Matthews, Anderson & Sheppard
McQueen cut his teeth as a pattern cutter on Savile Row, completing an apprenticeship when he left school at 16.
Karl Matthews of Savile Row tailor Anderson & Sheppard, where McQueen completed his apprenticeship, said: “Alexander McQueen was a tremendous ambassador for tailoring and in particular Savile Row. His name still resonates through Savile Row and will continue to do so. He created such an awareness for the industry and his rise to fame gave increased notoriety to it, many people wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
McQueen went on to study fashion design at Central St Martin’s college.
“It’s a tragedy,” said David Jones, consultant for the luxury industry and a former tutor of McQueen. “It’s been 20 years since he did my course and you certainly pick him out - he was hungry for knowledge. He had an edge even at that time and he was a step ahead of everyone else.”
The British Menswear Guild, which represents several Savile Row businesses, said in a statement: “The BMG is saddened by the tragic loss of one of Britain’s most talented and controversial designers. His creations were not for everyone but they always had something to say. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family.”
Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of publishing house Condé Nast, said: “He was astonishingly creative. My own abiding memory will be his collaboration with Bjork at the first Fashion Rocks at the Albert Hall - one of the most magical three minutes I’ve ever seen. There was no one like him.”
Julia Carrick, chief executive of British luxury trade body Walpole told Drapers: “It’s a hugely tragic loss and a blow not only to the British luxury industry but to the international fashion industry as a whole because he was such a huge success overseas.
“He was such a visionary and I think what particularly stood out was his amazing versatility - he crafted everyone from Lady Gaga to Prince Charles. We were planning to award him with the Walpole Medal of Excellence this year. He really did have such a huge impact on the British luxury market.”