McQueen killed himself out of grief for mother

Alexander McQueen, one of the greatest fashion designers of his generation, killed himself while he was half out of his mind with grief on the eve of his mother's funeral, an inquest established yesterday.

He locked himself in his flat, and set about trying to kill himself "while the balance of his mind was disturbed", the Westminster coroner said.

A post mortem examination found he had taken a "substantial" quantity of cocaine, and a quantity of sleeping pills that was "just into the fatal range". He had also cut both wrists with a kitchen knife and meat cleaver, although without causing a fatal injury. He had attempted to hang himself from a shower attachment, which buckled under his weight. Finally, he hanged himself in his spare bedroom.

He left a scrawled note on the back of an art book in his Mayfair flat saying "Please look after my dogs". He added an apology, and asked to be buried in church. Police officers who visited his flat after his death discovered that he had also been searching the internet for information on suicide.

The coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, described Mr McQueen as "a man who from a modest start climbed to the pinnacle of his profession". He added: "It seems that he had a past history of self-harm and, no doubt fuelled by cocaine, has resorted to desperate measures to end his life."

Lee Alexander McQueen was born in Lewisham in 1969, the son of a taxi driver, and shot to fame in 1994, the year he obtained a master's degree in fashion design at Central St Martin's College, London, when his entire degree collection was bought by the magazine editor Isabella Blow.

He founded his own Alexander McQueen label, and worked for five years as head designer at Givenchy. The Gucci group bought 50 per cent of his company in 2000, but he stayed on as creative director and joint owner.

But, behind the story of dazzling success, there was a personal history of loneliness, anxiety and depression. The inquest heard that he had twice taken overdoses of pills, in May and July 2009.

In July, he was referred to a psychiatrist, Dr Stephen Pereira at London's St Thomas's hospital, who tried to persuade him to accept help from a clinical psychologist, but McQueen was very reluctant to be treated. Dr Pereira told the inquest he diagnosed McQueen with a mixed depressive and anxiety disorder. "He certainly felt very pressured by his work but it was a double-edged sword," Dr Pereira said. "He felt it was the only area of his life where he felt he had achieved something. Usually after a show he felt a huge come-down. He felt isolated, it gave him a huge low."

He added that, after his mother's death, McQueen was "overwhelmed with grief" and "felt that was the one link that had gone from his life and there was very little to live for".

His mother's funeral was due to take place on 12 February. On 11 February, McQueen's long-serving housekeeper, Cesar Garcia, arrived at the flat and, finding the front door on a lock and chain, let himself in through the back way. McQueen's three dogs were whining and, after a search, Mr Garcia found the body in the wardrobe of the spare bedroom.

He rang McQueen's personal assistant, Kate Jones, and exclaimed: "He's gone. He's gone for good. He's dead. He's hanged himself." When paramedics arrived, they confirmed that McQueen was dead. Recording his verdict, the coroner added that there was no evidence whatever that anyone else was implicated.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

    £16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits