Feb 14, 2010
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Fans grab mementos as fashion bad boy mourned

Feb 14, 2010

LONDON, Feb 12, 2010 (AFP) - Fashion fans rushed to grab British designer Alexander McQueen's clothes and accessories as mementos Friday 12 February, retailers said, as the fashion world reeled from his shock death.

Photo: AFP/Carl Court

His apparent suicide Thursday 11 February at the age of 40 cast a shadow over the start of New York Fashion Week, a gloom likely to extend onto the London catwalks next week.

Tributes continued to pour in for the enfant terrible of fashion, who hanged himself at his London home after his mother died last week, and a day before her funeral, according to media reports.

"He brought a uniquely British sense of daring and aesthetic fearlessness to the global stage of fashion," said US Vogue editor Anna Wintour, calling him "one of the greatest talents of his generation."

In New York, his death caused shock as the Autumn-Winter 2010 Fashion Week opened. McQueen was not taking part in New York Fashion Week, which opens the season before shows in London, Milan, then Paris.

"It's horrible news. It's so sad to be in such a state of despair. Such a great talent, such poetry -- it's horrific," New York fashion doyenne Diane von Furstenberg, head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, told AFP.

In London the news threw a bombshell into preparations for London Fashion Week, where models are preparing to take to the catwalks from next Friday (19 February) with the Autumn-Winter collections.

"The shocking news of (McQueen's) apparent suicide casts a deathly veil of sorrow over the fashion world," wrote The Daily Telegraph fashion editor Hilary Alexander, who championed him when he was struggling as a young designer.

A McQueen show due in Paris on March 9 "has not been cancelled," a company spokeswoman told AFP.

The immediate priority, however, was organising the designer's funeral, which would be strictly private, she added.

Meanwhile retailers reported a rush to buy McQueen wares.

"Just after the news broke all of our Alexander McQueen stock started flying off the shelves. Initially the signature skull print scarves were the most popular items," said Kate Brindley of top London store Liberty's.

"But now we've seen a surge in sales of the more serious fashion items like the dresses and tailoring," she added.

Selfridges department store in London said it had seen a "very significant and immediate uplift" in sales.

"We full expect customers to want to buy something by him -- anything -- to keep as a memento, but also as a genuine tribute to his craft and spirit," said Selfridges' buying director Anne Pitcher.

From a humble background, McQueen rose to become one of Britain's most lauded fashion designers.

A four-time winner of the British designer of the year award, he designed for Givenchy and was creative director of his own label which was bought out by Gucci.

German couture legend Karl Lagerfeld was one of the first to pay tribute to him, telling AFP: "There was always some attraction to death, his designs were sometimes dehumanised.

"Who knows, perhaps after flirting with death too often, death attracts you," he added.

Media reports said McQueen's mother Joyce died on February 2, and in a comment on his Twitter page Sunday 7 February he wrote that he had had an "awful week, but my friends have been great, but now I have to somehow pull myself together."

The Times newspaper reported that his mother was to be buried on Friday 12 February.

McQueen's close friend and fashion icon Isabella Blow killed herself three years ago at the age of 48. Suffering from cancer and depression, she died of a drug overdose after telling friends she was going out shopping.by Lucie Godeau

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