Paul Munroe, the respected, openly gay South African menswear fashion designer, was found dead last week in Johannesburg after apparently taking his own life. He was due to present his anticipated new range at SA Fashion Week next month.

Friends have expressed shock at the suicide; saying that Munroe’s business and personal life seemed to be going well. “He was a very private person”, said an acquaintance.

Sources say that a note was apparently left at the scene by the designer asking that his SA Fashion Week show go ahead. Munroe became involved in fashion in the early nineties, designing couture garments for women, but he really made a splash three years ago when he presented a line of menswear at SA Fashion Week.

He became a leading light in the local menswear business and last year presented his collection at San Francisco Fashion Week. In addition to running his couture studio, he also managed the GFD Design Emporium: a fashion design college.

Munroe often said that he loathed the superficiality of the fashion industry, telling Mambaonline in 2005 that he hated the associated “flaky and false people and the whole fashion setup.”

In an interview with Factio online magazine in San Francisco he said that, “My aim in my career is to create interesting and wearable pieces, and not be part of the obsessions and hypes over trends, or colour, or what the newest and fleeting ‘in’ item is for the season. It leaves me cold. Further, I am quite reserved, quiet and unassuming, as opposed to the general expectation that a designer should be flamboyant, flapping and glamorous. So in a way, I don’t fit the profile of a designer as such, yet prefer my clothing to speak on my behalf.”

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