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Creative director Sarah Burton to exit Alexander McQueen after two decades

By Jule Scott


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Sarah Burton, Alexander McQueen RTW AW19. Credits: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

The upcoming Alexander McQueen show during Paris Fashion Week on September 30 will be Sarah Burton's last. The creative director is leaving the British luxury fashion house after a total of 26 years, parent company Kering announced on Monday. A “new creative organisation” for the house will be announced in due course.

“We would like to express our deep gratitude to Sarah for writing such an important chapter in the history of the Alexander McQueen House,” said Alexander McQueen CEO Gianfilippo Testa. “Sarah’s contributions over the past 26 years will leave an indelible mark.”

The end of a decades-long collaboration

Burton joined McQueen as an intern in 1996 after she asked Simon Ungless, a McQueen collaborator and Burton's teacher at London's Central Saint Martins art and design school, to recommend her. The brand had only existed for four years at this point, but had already established the aesthetic that would henceforth be forever associated with the McQueen name.

Her internship was the first, but not the last, time she worked for Alexander Lee McQueen, as she returned immediately after graduating. As of 2000, Burton's official title was head of design for Womenswear at McQueen, but she was more commonly referred to as the designer's right-hand woman.

Since Alexander McQueen's death in 2010, Burton has been the creative director of his eponymous brand, which was sold to what is now Kering Group in 2001. Under Burton, McQueen softened a bit, largely eschewing the shock value of the original McQueen brand, but continuing the designer's legacy of uncompromising tailoring with striking silhouettes. Over the past 13 years, Burton has managed to emerge from McQueen's formidable shadow without ever being forgotten.

“I am so proud of everything I have done and of my incredible team at Alexander McQueen,” said Burton. “They are my family and this has been my home for the last 26 years. I would like to thank Francois-Henri Pinault for believing in me and offering me this incredible opportunity. Above all, I would like to thank Lee Alexander McQueen. He taught me so much and I am eternally grateful to him. I look forward to the future and my next chapter and will always carry this cherished time with me."

Alexander McQueen
Sarah Burton