The fashion world was shocked and saddened by the sudden departure of Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen, the iconic British label she had led for over a decade. Burton, who had worked closely with the late founder Lee Alexander McQueen for 14 years, announced her resignation in September 2023, citing personal reasons. She presented her final collection for the brand at Paris Fashion Week on October 2, 2023, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
But the show must go on, and Alexander McQueen has found a new creative director to take over the reins of the house. Sean McGirr, a Dublin-born designer who was previously the head of ready-to-wear at KW Anderson, has been appointed as the new creative director of Alexander McQueen, effective immediately. The announcement was made by Kerring, the parent company of Alexander McQueen, on October 3, 2023.
McGirr is a relatively unknown name to the general public, but he has an impressive resume in the fashion industry. He graduated from Central Saint Martins in London in 2014, where he studied under the legendary Louise Wilson, who mentored many successful designers such as Christopher Kane, Roksandra Ilincic, and Mary Katrantzou. He then left Uniqlo in 2018 and joined Dries Van Noten in Antwerp as a women’s a women’s designer. In 2020, he moved to JW Anderson, where he oversaw both men’s and women’s collections alongside Jonathan Anderson, the creative director of Loewe.
McGirr is known for his eclectic and experimental style, blending influences from art, culture and history. He has a keen eye for color, texture, and silhouette, creating garments that are both playful and sophisticated. He has also shown a talent for tailoring, a skill that he honed on Savile Row at the age of 16. His work has been praised by critics and celebrities alike, and he has won several awards, including the British Fashion Council’s NewGen sponsorship in 2015 and 2016.
McGirr will be responsible for all creative aspects of Alexander McQueen, including womenswear, menswear, accessories, and fragrance. He will also oversee the brand’s image and communication strategy. He will present his first collection for Alexander McQueen in March 2024.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Gianfilippo Testa, CEO of Alexander McQueen, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sean McGirr as Creative Director. With his experience, personality and creative energy, he will bring a powerful creative language to Alexander McQueen while building on its unique heritage.”
Francois-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, added: “Alexander McQueen is a house we are passionate about, and we are confident that Sean McGirr will be able to pursue its journey with a new creative impetus. We look forward to opening this new chapter in the history of this unique brand”.
McGirr expressed his gratitude and excitement for his new role: “I am honored and humbled to join Alexander McQueen, a house that I have always admired for its uncompromising vision and daring creativity. I have immense respect for Sarah Burton and her incredible legacy at the brand. I look forward to working with the talented team and exploring new possibilities for Alexander McQueen”.
McGirr’s appointment marks a new era for Alexander McQueen, one of the most influential and revered fashion houses in the world. Founded by Lee Alexander McQueen in 1992, the brand is known for its ground-breaking clothes, shocking catwalk shows, and precise tailoring. McQueen’s designs were often inspired by Scottish heritage, his fascination with death and decay, and his rebellious attitude. He challenged conventions and provoked emotions with his romantic yet violent aesthetics. He died by suicide in 2010 at the age of 40.
Burton succeeded McQueen as creative director 2010 and continued his legacy with her own vision. She softened some of the edges of McQueen’s style while maintaining its essence. She created some of the most memorable collections and moments in fashion history, such as the wedding dresses of Kate Middleton in 2011, the Savage Beauty Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2011 and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2015, and the Plato’s Atlantis show in 2009, which was live-streamed on the internet.
McGirr faces the daunting task of filling Burton’s shoes and living up to McQueen’s name. But he also has an opportunity to bring his own perspective and innovation to the brand. How will he interpret Alexander McQueen’s DNA? How will he balance tradition and transformation? How will connect with the loyal fans and the new generation of customers? These are some of the new questions that will be answered in the coming months and years, as McGirr unveils his vision for Alexander McQueen.