Feb 12, 2010
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Fashion world mourns 'revolutionary genius' Alexander McQueen

Feb 12, 2010

PARIS, Feb 11, 2010 (AFP) - The fashion world's leading voices on Thursday 11 February paid tribute to the outlandish "revolutionary genius" of Alexander McQueen, the British designer found dead at home in London after an apparent suicide.

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"He was an imaginative designer and a show-stopper," said the powerful head of the Paris couture federation, Didier Grumbach, of a designer ready to court controversy with "bumster" trousers, stuffed animals or an amputee model on the catwalk.

"McQueen was daring, original, exciting," said John Galliano, who designs for Dior. "He was a fashion revolutionary."

Galliano added that he was saddened by the avant-garde designer's demise "following the death of his beloved mother", just days ago.

A four-time winner of the British designer of the year award, McQueen was creative director of his own label which was bought out by Gucci and was one of Britain's most lauded fashion designers.

"He was a genius. What a terrible, tragic waste," said the equally provocative and politically-inclined British designer Katherine Hamnett.

Model Kate Moss said she was "shocked and devastated" at his death at 40 while designer Vivienne Westwood was "incredibly sorry" to hear the news.

"Who knows," couture king Karl Lagerfeld told AFP, "Perhaps after flirting with death too often, death attracts you."

"There was always some attraction to death, his designs were sometimes dehumanised," Lagerfeld said, adding: "I found his work very interesting, never banal."

As his family asked for privacy to come to terms with the tragedy, tributes poured in from across the world.

Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, said: "He influenced a whole generation of designers. His brilliant imagination knew no bounds as he conjured up collection after collection of extraordinary designs.

"His death is the hugest loss to anyone who knew him and for very many who didn't."

In Moscow, Valentin Yudashkin dubbed McQueen "a figure in avant-garde fashion" who still had years of creativity to offer.

In Paris, fashion insider for three decades Donald Potard, an artistic agent for designers, dubbed McQueen one of the greatest geniuses on the scene.

"He was one of the most impressive designers I have ever seen," he said.

"Despite some of the dark macabre themes of his collections, he was a luminous human being.

McQueen cut his teeth as a tailor in Savile Row, where legend has it that he left his distinctive mark -- in the form of hand-written obscenities -- in the lining of a jacket for Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.

"He was an avant-garde visionary," said his boss Francois-Henri Pinault, who heads one of the world's top two luxury groups PPR, which controls the Gucci group (McQueen, YSL, Gucci, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Boucheron ...)

"His sometimes provocative genius, which was admired by all, continually opened up new perspectives," Pinault added.

Even the former partner of France's alltime king of fashion Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge, hailed his talent.

"This death upsets me greatly," Berge said on France Info radio. "He had talent and was an artist."

But asked to comment on McQueen's contribution to fashion, Berge said "contribution, let's not exaggerate. Not many people contribute in life. In any case, he was talented, he showed it, he was passionate about fashion."

McQueen viewed Saint Laurent as a genius and a source of inspiration. When the French designer died in 2008, McQueen said Saint Laurent was "the reason why I am in fashion".

"To me fashion should predict the time we live in. He did this is the 60s and 70s," McQueen said at the time.

His last collection, for spring/summer 2010, featured alien inspired make-up and reptilian prints and was praised as his best ever.by Claire Rosemberg

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