Lee McQueen was born in the East End of London on 17 March 1969, the son of a taxi driver and the youngest of six children.
He left school at 16 to serve an apprenticeship at the Savile Row tailors Anderson and Shephard, eventually making suits for Prince Charles.
McQueen later worked for Gieves & Hawkes and the theatre costumiers Angels, before being employed, aged 20, by Koji Tatsuno, a Japanese designer with links to London.
A year later McQueen was in Italy, working as a design assistant to Romeo Gigli, a Faenza-born designer renowned for his use of luxury fabrics.
By 1994 he was back in London, where he completed a masters degree in fashion design at Central St Martins College of Art and Design. His degree collection was bought in its entirety by the fashion icon Isabella Blow, a move that created a lasting friendship only broken when Blow killed herself in 2007.
After graduating McQueen set up his own label, based in the East End, where he launched his "bumster" trousers – extremely low slung trousers revealing the wearer's buttocks – and increased the fame of his label through numerous newspaper headlines.
He was appointed head designer at the French label Givenchy in October 1996, working there until leaving in March 2001, reportedly claiming the contract was "constraining his creativity".
In December 2000, Gucci Group acquired 51% of his Alexander McQueen label, where McQueen remained employed as creative director until his death.
He saw the label flourish throughout the 2000s, releasing women's and men's ready-to-wear collections as well as accessories, eyewear and two fragrances.
By 2007 there were Alexander McQueen boutiques in New York, London, Los Angeles, Milan and Las Vegas, although the year was a difficult one personally, with the death of Blow in May 2007.
Said to be devastated by her death, McQueen dedicated his 2008 spring and summer show at Paris fashion week to the Tatler fashion director.
In July 2008 the Alexander McQueen internet store launched, allowing fans to purchase directly from McQueen's website. Rihanna and Lady GaGa are just two of the many celebrities frequently seen wearing Alexander McQueen, with GaGa reportedly incorporating his work into her music videos.
One of McQueen's lifelong passions was scuba diving, and in a 2009 interview he described it as a source of inspiration. His spring 2010 collection, Plato's Atlantis, appeared to draw heavily on an underwater theme.
The designer's mother, Joyce, died on 2 February this year.
McQueen was named British designer of the year in 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2003, and international designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2003. He won the Fashion Directors Award in 2007 for his McQ denim-based brand, and was GQ's menswear designer of the year in 2007.
He was awarded the CBE in 2003.