Stars pay tribute to 'genius' Alexander McQueen at memorial service

Sunday 23 October 2011 04:21

British designer Alexander McQueen spent his career "harnessing his dreams and demons", fashion's elite were told at his memorial service today.

Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Campbell and Stella McCartney were among the stylish friends and relatives gathered for the service at St Paul's Cathedral to celebrate McQueen, who killed himself the day before his mother's funeral.

Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, paid tribute to "a complex and gifted young man" who grew up not far from the cathedral.

She said: "As a child he loved nothing more than sitting on the roof top and watching birds fly by.

"His final collection was a battle between dark and light.

"His was an 18-year career of harnessing his dreams and demons."

Speaking of his unease with fame, she talked of his "beloved London" which "he never liked to travel far from, even if he had a good time when he got there".

Wintour told the congregation: "He showed us everything was possible, dreams could become reality.

"But he has left us with an even more exceptional legacy, a talent that soared like the birds of his childhood above us all."

Icelandic singer Bjork, who was dressed in white and wearing a pair of angel wings, gave a moving rendition of Gloomy Sunday.

Shaun Leane, a friend of McQueen's, also paid tribute.

"It was your personality we loved, you were always true to who you were, when we laughed we laughed until we cried and when we argued we argued with you until we cried, but that was the beauty of your extremes.

"I watched you grow, you broke the boundaries and succeeded."

Speaking of a visit to Africa, Mr Leane said: "I looked up at the stars and asked, where are you Lee? As the words left my mouth a shooting star shot across the sky, you answered me.

"You moved stars like you moved our lives."

Another friend, Annabelle Nielson, added: "He kept true to who he was and where he came from.

"Lee made the impossible, possible.

"He was the greatest designer this country has ever produced."

Family and friends had taken a break from London Fashion Week for the ceremony, which was a "who's who" of the industry.

Parker caused a stir as she arrived wearing a cream dress protected from the autumn chill by a black knee-length jacket.

Supermodel Campbell wore a black feather dress along with knee-high boots that revealed gold detailing on the sole as she walked up the steps into the cathedral.

Flashes of McQueen's trademark tartan could also be seen as others chose to pay homage by wearing his designs.

The industry was left reeling after the 40-year-old's suicide, which came the day before his mother Joyce's funeral.

It was also just three years since the suicide of his close friend, style guru Isabella Blow, who helped launch his career.

McQueen's body was discovered by his housekeeper in a wardrobe at his flat in Mayfair, central London.

His inquest heard the designer hanged himself after taking a cocktail of cocaine, sleeping pills and tranquillisers.

He had a history of depression, anxiety and insomnia and had researched suicide on the internet before taking his life.

Described by editor of British Vogue Alexandra Shulman as a "modern genius", Lee Alexander McQueen earned himself a reputation as the "enfant terrible" of British fashion.

McQueen had become one of the most respected figures in the industry after his entire graduation collection was bought by Ms Blow.

He was known for his daring creations that sometimes tipped over into the shocking and bizarre, drawing critical acclaim and bringing him several awards.

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