Alexander McQueen, magnificent designer and creative role model to thousands of fashion lovers, has died of an apparent suicide. He was 40 years old.

It would be disingenuous, at this juncture, to speculate about what McQueen’s legacy will be or what impact his all-too-soon death will have, but if there is one thing I can say for sure, it’s that the world still needs Alexander McQueen.

A one-time enfant terrible of the fashion world, McQueen’s designs had recently found a more widespread audience that garnered him a good bit of mainstream fame. Pop stars like Lady Gaga wore his most avant-garde creations in music videos while celebs as mundane as Kate Hudson carried his more accessible handbags in front of hordes of paparazzi. By all indications, it was Alexander McQueen’s moment.

He’s gone now, long before he was done, and the fashion industry is without one of its greatest iconoclasts and creative thinkers. As Zac Posen said recently, fashion is a business that loves an exception, and McQueen was one of its greatest. His clothing had an inherent wit and violence to it, and it was often completely unwearable outside of an editorial shoot. That he would rise to prominence while making commercially unmarketable clothes was a longshot at best.

To McQueen, that was never the point. Season after season, he reminded us all of what fashion could be on its very best day, when the cynicism was stripped away and creative people got the chance to do what they were born to do. He made clothing that made us dream and gave us nightmares, and there are few experiences in fashion as visceral and revelatory as watching a collection of his creations see the light of day for the first time.

We don’t know whether his final collection will walk at Paris Fashion Week or if we’ll ever get to see what he was working on when he died. In the new issue of LOVE magazine, McQueen said cryptically, “When I’m dead, hopefully this house will still be going. On a spaceship.” It is without question that his legacy and vision need to be continued; I merely wish that he was going to be the one to do it.

More information on McQueen via Daily Mail.

Photo via the Guardian.

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