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McQueen foundation to fund student designers

Lee Alexander McQueen is understood to have suggested to people in the industry that he would wish to set up a foundation to support struggling design students in the event of his death.

Sources close to the Alexander McQueen business told Drapers that the designer had planned to set aside money to finance a foundation to be set up in his name, funding designers from poorer backgrounds to study for MAs and other design qualifications.

No further details about the monetary value or timescale for the foundation of the fund were available as Drapers went to press.

However, a source close to the label said: “It will take a long time for the dust to settle.”

McQueen was himself the recipient of funding from the British Fashion Council’s Newgen sponsorship scheme in 1993, which helped him to launch his career via a catwalk at London Fashion Week.

He came from a working-class background. The son of a taxi driver, he grew up in the East End of London as the youngest of six children. Like many young designers, he struggled during his time at college and was often worried about his finances.

However, in a true rags-to-riches story, McQueen sold a 51% stake in his label to the Gucci Group in 2000. Although the value of the deal was never disclosed, that alone is thought to have netted the designer £13.6m.

In an interview with W magazine in June 2008, he said of his early career: “What I was worried about when I first started in fashion was not being homeless.”

It is understood that a foundation set up in his name would fund aspiring designers from less privileged backgrounds to study at fashion colleges including Central Saint Martins, where McQueen studied for his MA, and from where he graduated in 1992.

McQueen was always a vocal supporter of young design talent. On collecting his CBE in 2003, McQueen said in a statement: “I now formally urge the British Government to match this recognition by investing in manufacturing and new talent - the foundation of British fashion.”

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