Sarah Burton — Alexander McQueen’s long-standing creative director and former right-hand of late founder Lee McQueen — is parting ways with Kering-owned house, the company said in a statement.
McQueen’s September show during Paris Fashion Week will be her final outing for the house. Her successor is set to be announced “in due course,” the company said.
Burton first worked at Alexander McQueen as an intern during her studies at Central Saint Martins, returning as a full-time designer after graduating. In 2000, after just two years at the brand, she was named head of womenswear design. Following McQueen’s death in 2010, Burton was named his successor, tasked with continuing the late designer’s legacy.
In 2011, she made headlines for designing Catherine, Princess of Wales’ wedding dress, and was soon awarded an OBE for her services to British fashion.
At the head of McQueen, Burton became one of the industry’s most respected designers in her own right as she managed to animate the brand with runway collections that mixed poetry with utility. She brought a sense of edgy glamour to the brand, while shifting its message away from the intense darkness that defined McQueen under its founder.
Burton’s departure follows an executive reshuffle at McQueen: previous CEO Emmanuel Gintzburger left for Capri-owned Versace last year, and was replaced by Gianfillippo Testa, a former retail executive at Kering flagship Gucci.
McQueen’s sales surged ahead of the pandemic, powered by a streak of buzzier-than-usual shows by Burton and a hit product in the form of its thick-soled, €500 sneakers. In 2018, Kering flagged plans to invest heavily in further developing McQueen, which was then the group’s fastest-growing brand.
The group is depending on smaller brands in its “Other Luxury” division more than before as the unit’s anchor, Balenciaga continues to struggle in key markets like the US and UK. But market sources said a push to reduce wholesale exposure and limit the brand’s dependence on sneakers may have hampered the company’s growth in recent months.
“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,” CEO Testa said.
Stay tuned to BoF for updates on this developing story.