Alexander McQueen dies

One of Britain's top fashion designers Alexander McQueen has been found dead - reportedly hanged - at his flat in central London.

The 40-year-old is believed to have become depressed following the death of his mother Joyce, who died on February 2.

McQueen , who was named British fashion designer of the year four times between 1996 and 2003, had posted a string of messages on Twitter which offered an insight into his state of mind after he lost his beloved mum.

On February 3 he wrote: "i'm letting my followers know the my mother passed away yesterday if it she had not me nor would you RIP mumxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [sic]".

This was followed up seconds later with: "but life must go on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Then four days later, over two tweets, he wrote: "sunday evening been a f*****g awful week but my friends have been great but now i have to some how pull myself together and finish with the HELLS ANGLES & PROLIFIC DEAMONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

The last message on his account, which appears to have been written around mid- afternoon on Tuesday, read: "im here with my girl annie tinkerbell wishing kerry the slag, happy birthday in NY, your 40 now girl time to slow it down we think."

Scotland Yard said police were called to McQueen's property on Green Street, in London's West End, at 10.20am after he was found dead by the London Ambulance Service.

His body was removed from the house and put into a private ambulance at 4.46pm.

Police said his death is not being treated as suspicious and sources said it was believed McQueen was found hanged.

A spokeswoman for McQueen said: "Mr McQueen was found dead this morning at his home.

"We're devastated and I hope you understand that out of respect to his family and his colleagues we're not going to be making any further statement."

McQueen, whose first name was Lee but who used his middle name for his label, died just days before the start of London Fashion Week and weeks before he was due to unveil his new collection at Paris Fashion Week on March 9.

A message on his website alexandermcqueen.com said: "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."

Sky News showbiz correspondent Steve Hargrave said McQueen was a very successful designer, always thought of as "l'enfant terrible" of the fashion world when he started out.

Leading figures in the fashion world, including models, fellow designers and fashion journalists, paid tribute to McQueen's work.

British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman said: "Lee McQueen influenced a whole generation of designers.

"His brilliant imagination knew no bounds as he conjured up collection after collection of extraordinary designs."

McQueen's fashion show in New York tonight has been cancelled.

A tribute page has already been set up for him on Facebook .

Born in the East End of London in March 1969, McQueen was the youngest of six children and left school at the age of 16.

The son of a taxi driver, he was already making dresses for his sisters at a young age but was given his first break at Savile Row tailors Anderson & Sheppard after joining as an apprentice.

During his time working at Savile Row, his clients included the former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the Prince of Wales.

His profile was elevated in the early 1990s when his own line of low "bumster" trousers were launched in London.

In 1994, he applied to London's prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and did not take long to make waves in the industry.

After receiving a masters degree in fashion design, his entire collection was famously bought by influential stylist Isabella Blow, who killed herself almost three years ago.

The 48-year-old took her own life at her Gloucestershire country home after telling friends she was going shopping.

Nicola Peckett, spokeswoman for Samaritans, said: "Young or vulnerable people and those who have been bereaved by suicide can be particularly affected by the apparent suicide of a prominent public figure.

"It may exacerbate their feelings of distress about their own personal situation.

"Samaritans therefore urges anyone in emotional distress to call our 24/7 confidential helpline on 08457 909090."

© Sky News 2010