End of an era as Sarah Burton leaves Alexander McQueen after 26 years
©Photo: T Magazine / Karim Sadli

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

September 12, 2023

The world of fashion is no stranger to goodbyes, and another significant one looms on the horizon as Sarah Burton, the creative powerhouse behind Alexander McQueen, announces her departure. After dedicating more than two decades of her life to the iconic British fashion house, Burton is closing a chapter that saw her transform from an intern to the Creative director of Alexander McQueen. As the industry awaits the unveiling of Burton’s final collection at the upcoming Spring/Summer 2024 show in Paris, many reflect on the indelible mark she has left on the house of McQueen and the fashion world at large.

The Alexander McQueen fashion house and creative director Sarah Burton today announce the end of their collaboration after two decades together,” Kering said on Monday. “The Spring/Summer ’24 fashion show in Paris in September will mark the conclusion of a highly successful partnership that began when Sarah Burton became Creative director of the fashion House in May 2010.”

In an emotional message, Sarah Burton conveyed her sense of pride in her accomplishments and her Alexander McQueen team. She expressed gratitude to François-Henri Pinault and Lee Alexander McQueen for their trust and the chances they gave her. “I am looking forward to the future and my next chapter and will always carry this treasured time with me,” she remarked.

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

Sarah Burton’s journey with Alexander McQueen began in 1996 when she landed an internship at the design house, thanks to an introduction by her instructor, Simon Ungless. Rising through the ranks, she became McQueen’s personal assistant, and later, the head of womenswear. Following the tragic suicide of Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010, Burton was named the creative director of the brand. In this role, she navigated the challenging task of honoring McQueen’s legacy while infusing her own creativity into the brand’s aesthetic.

Burton’s tenure at Alexander McQueen was marked by a commitment to preserving Lee’s attention to detail and unique vision, while also adding her personal, highly creative touch.

Burton’s most memorable fashion moment came in 2011 when she designed the wedding dresses for the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and her sister, Pippa Middleton. This moment solidified her status as a household name in the U.K. and as Kate’s go-to designer. Her accolades did not stop there; in 2011, she received the Designer of the Year Award at the British Fashion Awards, and in 2019, the Council of Fashion Designers of America International Award.

Beyond the accolades, Burton’s tenure at Alexander McQueen was marked by growth. According to Vogue Business, Alexander McQueen’s sales rose from €220 million in 2014 to €830 million in 2022. This success can be attributed to Burton’s dedication to the brand and her ability to balance the preservation of McQueen’s legacy with her innovative approach to design.

François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering, the parent company of Alexander McQueen, thanked Burton personally for her work over the past two decades. ”I am immensely grateful to Sarah, and I want to personally thank her for her work over the past two decades, first alongside Lee Alexander McQueen, where her role was instrumental to his success, and then as the creative director since 2010. Through her own experience, sensitivity and talent, Sarah continued to evolve the artistic expression of this iconic house. She kept and continued Lee’s heritage, attention to detail and unique vision, while adding her own personal, highly creative touch,” he said.

Gianfilippo Testa, chief executive officer of Alexander McQueen, said: “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.”

As the fashion world prepares for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2024 show in Paris, where Burton will showcase her final collection for Alexander McQueen, many are left wondering what the future holds for her. Although Burton has not announced any plans following her departure, the industry eagerly awaits the next chapter in her illustrious career.

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