On Monday, it was confirmed that Sarah Burton will part ways with Alexander McQueen after more than twenty five years in total and 13 as the creative director of the British fashion house, meaning her spring/summer 2024 collection to be shown on September 30th during Paris Fashion Week will be her last for the brand.
The English designer joined Alexander McQueen back in 1996 as an intern while studying at Central Saint Martens, and returned to the label full-time upon her graduation a year later. In 2000, she was appointed head of womenswear for the brand, and worked closely with founder Lee McQueen for over a decade until his untimely death in 2010. As his right hand, she was a natural choice as Lee’s successor, and took over the role as creative director for Alexander McQueen after it was decided that the brand would continue in the wake of his passing.
Burton has been praised for her upkeep of Lee’s legacy, while pushing Alexander McQueen further into the 21st century and leaving a legacy of her own. She has become known for her tailoring, her ornate detailing, and her sometimes tongue-in-cheek designs. In 2011, Burton designed Princess Katherine’s wedding dress under the McQueen label, which she called the “experience of a lifetime,” according to the BBC. She also designed a second dress for the princess on her wedding weekend, as well as the much-discussed gown worn by Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton.
She has been awarded greatly for her contributions to Alexander McQueen and fashion as a whole, receiving the title of Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 2011 and gaining the honor of an Order of the British Empire (OBE) a year later. Though she’s kept a lower public profile than many of her contemporaries, she has nurtured relationships with many celebrities during her time as creative director, designing gowns for Beyoncé, Elle Fanning, Lady Gaga, and more. Her suiting skills, too, have garnered quite a following, and Zendaya, Cate Blanchett, and Timothée Chalamet have shown their affinity for her tailoring in the past.
“I am so proud of everything I’ve done and of my incredible team at Alexander McQueen,” Burton said in a statement. “They are my family, and this has been my home for the past 26 years. I want to thank François-Henri Pinault for believing in me and offering me this amazing opportunity. Above all, I want to thank Lee Alexander McQueen. He taught me so much, and I am eternally grateful to him. I am looking forward to the future and my next chapter and will always carry this treasured time with me.”
According to Vogue Business, Alexander McQueen saw growth during Burton’s tenure at the brand, with sales rising from €220 million in 2014 to €830 million in 2022. Alexander McQueen is part of Kering, and Burton’s departure marks another shake up for the group (Gucci, another Kering house, will shows it first collection under incoming creative director Sabato De Sarno this month). As of now, it is unclear what Burton will do following her final show with McQueen. She could, of course, start her own brand, but hasn’t announced any plans. Kering’s replacement for the designer has also yet to be revealed. According to the brand’s press release, a “new creative organization for the House will be announced in due course.”