Sarah Burton, the creative director of Alexander McQueen has announced that she will be leaving the brand after 26 years. The fashion house, which is owned by parent company Kering, announced that the brand’s show at Paris Fashion Week on September 30, 2023 will be Burton’s last.
“We would like to express our immense gratitude to Sarah for writing such an important chapter in the history of the Alexander McQueen House. Sarah’s contribution over the past 26 years will leave an indelible mark,” said Gianfilippo Testa, Alexander McQueen’s chief executive.
That mark, of course, extends across all of Burton’s time in McQueen’s womenswear, her landmark design for future queen, Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, and her 13-year tenure as creative director.
Kering has said that they will announce a successor to Burton “in due course”.
She had been with the brand since 1996, starting on a placement while attending Central Saint Martins in London. She graduated and returned to McQueen, a loyalty to the label that would extend over the course of her career.
After two years at the house, Burton was appointed to head womenswear, and then in 2010, was named successor after McQueen’s passing. Burton was charged with the tender job of preserving his legacy, something she did with a dedication and passion that was clear for the fashion set to see.
Her first big undertaking as creative director, alongside the label’s usual collections, was to create Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, which she wore in 2011.
The intricate design featured lashings of lace (one of the types is now known as ‘Kate’s Lace’), classic McQueen corsetry and an attention to detail that the brand has become known for. With an eight-foot train, the dress is a work of art, that was lauded by other fashion designers including the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Donatella Versace. According to the BBC, Burton called making the dress an “experience of a lifetime”.
It is the thoughtful details that made Burton’s work so poignant. Kate’s wedding gown, for example, was embroidered with a rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock to represent each nation that makes up the United Kingdom, a motif that was later replicated in Kate’s Alexander McQueen dress that she wore for King Charles III’s coronation. Burton has worked closely with Middleton throughout her tenure and even received an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her contribution to the British fashion industry.
Announcing her decision, Burton said, “I am so proud of everything I’ve done and of my incredible team at Alexander McQueen. They are my family, and this has been my home for the past 26 years. I want to thank Francois-Henri Pinault for believing in me and offering me this amazing opportunity.”
She also took the opportunity to honour her predecessor and the brand’s namesake, Lee McQueen.
“Above all I want to thank Lee Alexander McQueen,” she said. “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 him.”
Sarah Burton’s Best Looks For Alexander McQueen
While Burton leaving McQueen is a huge shake up for the fashion house, there’s no denying that she has cemented it as an integral brand in the fashion landscape.
She’s dressed all manner of celebrities from Lady Gaga to Beyoncé, and of course was the person behind Pippa Middleton’s headline-making bridesmaid dress.
Here, we take a look back at some of the best Alexander McQueen celebrity moments during Burton’s tenure.
Florence Pugh, 2023
Florence Pugh opted for a daring McQueen design to celebrate the 2023 Elle Style Awards, wearing a see-through floor-length McQueen dress with a halterneck and lace detailing.
Beyoncé is a loyal McQueen fan, having worn the brand’s stunning designs in her iconic Renaissance Tour. In 2023, while performing in San Francisco, she donned a custom-made corset with sequin honeycomb embroidery.
Elle Fanning, 2023
Elle Fanning wore a series of stunning looks to the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, rounded out by her final Alexander McQueen look at the Jeanne du Barry screening.
The floor-length tulle gown included a beaded layered bodice that flared out at the hips for a feminine silhouette.
Timothée Chalamet, 2022
Timothée Chalamet donned a white, asymmetrical Alexander McQueen suit at the Bones and All 2022 premiere during the BFI London Film Festival.
Daisy Edgar-Jones, 2022
While promoting her film Where The Crawdads Sing in 2022, Daisy Edgar-Jones donned a striking one shoulder McQueen dress for the event, which was held at the Ham Yard Hotel in London.
In 2021, Zendaya wore a spider-themed blazer and tights look by McQueen to the photocall for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Harry Styles, 2017
Being a British pop star, Harry Styles has been a supporter of the McQueen brand over the years, wearing a particularly iconic suit with Roker boots to the 2017 Aria Awards in Sydney.
Cate Blanchett, 2016/2020
Australian actress Cate Blanchett loves Alexander McQueen so much that she wore one of the brand’s tops twice. The custom embellished top was designed by Sarah Burton and Blanchett wore it to the 2016 BAFTAs and the 2020 Venice Film Festival.
Nicole Kidman, 2016
A mainstay of the Met Gala red carpet, Kidman wore a moon-inspired chiffon McQueen dress with cape to the 2016 event, which was themed, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”.
Margot Robbie, 2016
In a vampy nod to her villainous character, Margot Robbie opted for a silver, unicorn-themed, asymmetrical Alexander McQueen dress to the Suicide Squad world premiere in New York City in 2016.
Michelle Obama, 2011
While Sarah Burton’s designs were beloved by a Princess, they were also worn by the First Lady of the United States. Michelle Obama wore a red off-the-shoulder organza McQueen gown to a state dinner she hosted alongside her partner Barack Obama in 2011.
Kate Middleton, 2011
Kate Middleton’s iconic 2011 wedding dress, designed by Burton for Alexander McQueen will go down in the history books as one of the designer’s most well-known looks.
Pippa Middleton, 2011
While Kate Middleton’s dress was the star of the show, it was nearly eclipsed by her sister Pippa Middleton’s stunning white look, again in 2011.