updated 02/11/2010 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/11/2010 AT 10:30 AM ET
British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, 40, was found dead at his London home on Thursday morning, his office confirms.
“Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand, has been found dead at his home,” his family says in a statement to PEOPLE. “At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee’s family.”
“Lee’s family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media will respect this,” the statement continues.
According to the Scotland Yard report, “Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 10:20 a.m. [Thursday] regarding a man found dead …The deceased is believed to be 40 years old and from London. Next of kin have been informed but formal identification is awaited. A postmortem examination will be arranged in due course. The death is being treated as non-suspicious at this time.”
Britain’s Daily Mail reports that he hanged himself in his luxury apartment.
McQueen’s death comes days after the death of his mother, Joyce, and almost three years after the May 2007 suicide of his close friend Isabella Blow, who discovered the designer and helped launch his career. The designer was so upset at his friend’s death, that he dedicated his spring-summer show at Paris Fashion Week 2008 to the late Blow.
Designer for the Stars
The youngest of six children, the designer was born Lee Alexander McQueen. He was trained in tailoring in Savile Row, and in 1994, McQueen enrolled in London’s Central Saint Martins fashion school. After graduation, he began his own business in the city’s East End. In 1996, he was named head designer at Givenchy, before joining with Gucci, who bought 51 per cent of his company, bolstering his eponymous line.
During his career, the designer won many accolades, including being awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) and being named International Designer of the Year at the Council of Fashion Designer Awards. McQueen was also named British designer of the year four times between 1996 and 2003. He was known for his exquisite, couture-quality gowns and over-the-top theatrical fashion presentations, with fashionable stars such as Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker and Katie Holmes often wearing his creations on the red carpet.
McQueen was expected to present his latest collection on March 9 during Paris Fashion Week. One of his contemporary lines, McQ, was scheduled to be shown at New York Fashion Week on Thursday afternoon, but the event was canceled.