Alexander McQueen welcomes Seán McGirr, forging a new dawn
©Photo: Kering / Robin Galiegue

Alexander McQueen welcomes Seán McGirr, forging a new dawn

Seán McGirr steps into a new era at Alexander McQueen, inciting curiosity in the fashion world. Amid legacy and mystery, his anticipated debut holds promise to redefine the iconic brand's future.
October 4, 2023

A fresh chapter unfolds at the iconic fashion house Alexander McQueen with the appointment of Seán McGirr as new artistic director, marking a pivotal moment of transformation and creative resurgence.

With Kering at the helm, the selection of McGirr, a Dublin-born talent, echoes the conglomerate’s affinity for unveiling and nurturing gemlike talents from the depths of the industry. McGirr steps into the sizable shoes left by Sarah Burton, embarking on a journey sprinkled with both admiration for the past and an unyielding gaze towards the future.

Educated at the esteemed Central Saint Martins in England, McGirr boasts a perspective inspired by the eclectic and electric streets of London. Sources claim McGirr, both a photographer and designer, possesses a keen eye and a natural affinity for textiles.

Alexander McQueen welcomes Seán McGirr, forging a new dawn

McGirr last served as the head of ready-to-wear at JW Anderson, working closely with Jonathan Anderson. He became part of the team in 2020, initially focusing on menswear before expanding his expertise to include womenswear. Prior to his tenure at JW Anderson, McGirr was associated with Dries Van Noten, contributing to the womenswear collection. His professional journey also features notable experiences at Burberry and Christophe Lemaire for Uniqlo.

Gianfilippo Testa, CEO of Alexander McQueen, praised McGirr stating, “With his experience, personality and creative energy, [McGirr] will bring a powerful creative language to Alexander McQueen while building on its unique heritage.” It’s a sentiment echoed by François-Henri Pinault, the chairman and CEO of Kering, who expressed an unwavering confidence in McGirr’s ability to infuse new creative vigor into the esteemed brand.

Yet, with the dawn of Seán McGirr’s era comes inherent challenges. He holds the distinct title of being the first designer at the house not to have worked under Alexander McQueen, who passed away in 2010. In a house where the echoes of its founder’s distinct, sharp-edged aesthetic still resonate, McGirr is tasked with the monumental duty of intertwining past legacies with future visions.

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A mystery shrouds the departure of Sarah Burton, a figure who, for 26 years, meticulously preserved and expanded upon Alexander McQueen’s iconic style. Kering and Burton have not publicly disclosed the reasons for their separation, and the necessity for Alexander McQueen to find a replacement for Burton remains ambiguous. She was a guardian of McQueen’stough aesthetic while infusing elements of lightness and femininity. The industry now watches with bated breath, eager to unravel the mystery of McGirr’s sartorial language and anticipate whether he’ll follow in Burton’s footsteps or carve a novel path.

Kering’s silence on the details of Sarah Burton’s departure and Seán McGirr’s appointment is emblematic of the group’s characteristically enigmatic manner. Known for empowering their creative leaders with significant autonomy, they are equally notorious for abrupt terminations when a trend wanes or business falters. Amidst this landscape of uncertainty, the resilient brand seeks rejuvenation and growth, stepping boldly into the competitive arena of high fashion.

Seán McGirr’s premiere collection is highly anticipated. In Kering’s Tuesday statement, there was no mention of the debut date for McGirr’s inaugural collection for the label. With the industry’s eyes affixed on him, questions abound regarding the direction he’ll steer the heritage brand. Will he honor the legacy of Alexander McQueen and the delicate touch of Burton, or will he usher in a narrative rich with his unique signatures?

Emotions ran high in Paris on September 30th as Sarah Burton unveiled her last collection for Alexander McQueen, marking the end of her 26-year tenure at the fashion house. Burton’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, “Anatomy II,” draws inspiration from female anatomy, Queen Elizabeth I, the vibrant blood red rose, and Magdalena Abakanowicz – a defiantly creative artist renowned for her unwavering vision. The show notes conveyed a message from Burton: ”This show is dedicated to the memory Lee Alexander McQueen, whose wish was always to empower women, and to the passion, talent, and loyalty of my team.”

Read more: End of an era as Sarah Burton leaves Alexander McQueen after 26 years