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Tragic McQueen will live on through his clothes brand, vows Gucci boss

Alexander McQueen's fashion label will live on despite the designer's suicide and a history of debts that have left his clothing brand struggling to turn a profit.

Francois-Henri Pinault, head of the French luxury group PPR which controls the McQueen label through its Gucci Group, announced that continuing McQueen's legacy would be the best possible tribute to a man he described as a genius, poet and friend.

"The McQueen trade-mark will live on," he said during an emotional press conference. "This would be the best tribute that we could offer to him."

The news will come as a moment of relief for London Fashion Week which kicks off today under the gloomy shadow of McQueen's death. An inquest this week heard how the 40-year-old was found hanging in a wardrobe in his Mayfair flat with a suicide note nearby on the eve of the funeral of his mother, Joyce.

McQueen won British Designer of the Year four times and over the past decade became one of the world's most talented designers. But despite achieving widespread popularity and respect within the fashion industry, his clothing brand struggled to establish itself financially.

It was only in 2006, five years after the label was originally set up, that the fashion house managed to turn a profit. An analysis of the British wing of the global label, meanwhile, showed liabilities totalling more than £32m (€37m). The label owns 11 boutiques and employs 180 people worldwide. A number of fashion houses, such as Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, have continued to thrive without their creative founders but survival is by no means guaranteed.

Early indications suggest that McQueen's death is likely to lead to a huge short term increase in sales as fans rush to snap up his creations. According to the trade magazine Drapers, sales of McQueen clothes have soared by 1,400pc.