Sarah Burton has big shoes to fill. Really big lobster claw-shaped shoes. In May Burton was named Alexander McQueen‘s successor as creative director of his eponymous house. Burton’s first solo show for McQueen occurred in June during Milan Men’s Fashion Week. The show was well-received, but Burton’s true test will come next Tuesday as she debuts her first women’s show for the Alexander McQueen label.
Burton came to McQueen as an intern during her time at Central Saint Martins. She was hired immediately following graduation, just as McQueen landed a contract with Givenchy. In the 16 years she worked with McQueen, she became his most trusted ally. In an interview with WWD, she compared their relationship to a marriage: “He was such a lovely man, and his mind never switched off.… He was so important to me. You just wanted to make him happy, look after him. Although I felt that I protected him, now I feel that he protected me.”
She intends to stay true to McQueen’s legacy, while infusing the brand with her own sense of feminine lightness, saying we should expect the collections to retain McQueen’s aesthetic but also “become softer.” She also hopes to make people realize that the house of McQueen makes clothes women can actually wear: “There’s this myth that it’s an unwearable house, but that’s not true.” One way Burton plans to highlight the house’s wearability is to focus on what she sees to be great opportunities in handbags and shoes, as well as the lower-priced McQ line.
Though she was initially reluctant to succeed her mentor and confidant, Burton is eager to honor his memory. “The thing I learnt very early on with Lee is that nothing was ever impossible. We push boundaries so much,” she said. And we’re excited to see this new era of boundary pushing come Tuesday.