Monsters in the Fashion Industry: Suicide of Alexander McQueen & Kate Spade

By Julia Porter

The fashion industry looks all glitzy and glamorous from the outside, but once the lights dim on the runway and the makeup comes off, the monsters still lurk deep inside. Fashion has had to suffer the losses of many notable figures due to depression and other forms of mental illness. Not only is the industry inherently stress-inducing, with a focus often on superficiality and looks, but the personal lives of these designers also contributes to the pressure that brings them to the edge.
One of the most notable figures lost too young is Alexander McQueen. Born in London on March 17, 1969, McQueen would go on to become the head designer at Givenchy from 1996 to 2001, and launch his own menswear line in 2004. He was a nontraditional designer, coming from a lower class background and showcased his personality through his works. During his life, he was awarded the British Fashion Council’s Designer of the Year award four times. Before his apparent suicide in 2010, McQueen had been deeply affected by the death of magazine editor and close friend Isabella Blow in 2007 and his mother in 2010. Being a private person, those who knew him are still unsure what could have brought him to the brink. Despite losing him, his bold and captivating styles will always be imprinted in the minds of those who love fashion.
More recently, fashion has lost another noteworthy designer, Kate Spade. Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1962, Spade would go on to create a vibrant brand loved by so many women. With a passion for accessories, she founded her iconic brand in 1993 in SoHo on the basis of her signature bags. As the business grew, so did her assortment of merchandise, moving into apparel, shoes, bedding, and more. She also started a second brand with some close friends in 2016, Frances Valentine, after selling the Kate Spade brand in 2006 to devote more time to being a mother. Earlier this summer, her creative spirit no longer flowed as she was found unconscious in her Park Avenue apartment from an apparent suicide. Her husband detailed that she had been dealing with depression for many years and was actively seeking help at the time. According to him, there was no warning to this tragedy. Though no longer with us, her spirit still lingers in each of her beautiful and fun pieces that continue to be worn by many women.
The world has felt the loss of many great people to suicide, both those who shine in the spotlight and those who are close to us. Depression is a serious and all-too-common issue that inflicts pain upon many of those around us. By being able to know the signs in yourself and others, you help someone enjoy more of life’s precious moments and share in life’s greatest achievements. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or other mental illness, reach out for help. Here are some resources you can use:
LIU Post Center for Healthy Living
Life Science, Room 155
(516) 299-3468
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)


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October 31, 2018