After 13 years helming Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton is leaving the brand. The British designer, who was appointed creative director after the founder’s passing in 2010, will present her last collection for the brand on September 30th, 2023 as part of Paris Fashion Week. “Above all, I want to thank Lee Alexander McQueen,” Burton said in a statement. “He taught me so much, and I am eternally grateful to him. I am looking forward to the future and my next chapter and will always carry this treasured time with me.”
Throughout her tenure atop the brand, Burton has continued the couture vision of McQueen while also imprinting her own signatures—supple tailoring, embroidery, and a wearable edginess. The designer’s most famous creation is undoubtedly the unforgettable wedding dress she made for Kate Middleton’s 2011 wedding. In the time since, Burton has dressed a host of stars like Zendaya, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Nicole Kidman, Timothée Chalamet, among others, for career-defining moments like the Met Gala and the Academy Awards. Below, a look back at Sarah Burton’s most memorable celebrity style moments as creative director of Alexander McQueen.
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Burton, who was McQueen’s right-hand, was less than a year into the top job when she was commissioned to design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. Middleton selected the British brand “for the
beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing.”
Burton designed the billowing skirt, which featured a sprawling nine foot train, to mimic the opening of a flower. It’s also safe to say that this was Burton’s most-viewed design—the Royal wedding had more than 162 million viewers worldwide.
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Elle Fanning has long been a proponent of Burton’s McQueen, sporting the designer’s wears as far back as 2014. Prior to fronting the brand’s fall/winter 2023 campaign, the actress stepped out to that year’s Cannes Film Festival in an ethereal custom gown. The princess-style dress is based off a similar look form the brand’s fall/winter 2023 collection, which Fanning “fell in love” with.
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Zendaya took a special liking to Burton’s tailored pieces over the years, with a standout look coming for the
Spiderman: No Way in 2021. The actress sported a full look from the brand’s spring/summer 2022 collection, consisting of sheer, crystalized tights and an oversized double-breasted blazer that also dripped in jewels. Home Premiere
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As one of the foremost models of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, Gisele Bündchen was a constant on Lee Alexander McQueen’s runways nearly every season. After the designer’s passing, the Brazilian bombshell wore a red drop-waist gown designed by Burton for the 2011 Met Gala (which, fittingly, honored the life and work of McQueen).
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It’s no secret that fashion girl Taylor Russell loves an off-the-runway look. Case in point: this leather, backless halter dress from Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2023 collection she sported for the Academy Museum Gala.
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Burton’s mastery of embroidery made her a favorite amongst stars on the red carpet. Here, Nicole Kidman sported an Art-Deco, celestial gown for the 2016 Met Gala that Burton customized based on a similar look from her fall/winter 2016 runway show.
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It hasn’t been all gowns and glitter for Burton, who has proved herself to have quite a hand in menswear, too. While they may be less experimental than their womenswear counterparts, they’ve garnered a starry fanbase—like Timothée Chalamet who wore a zipper-trimmed suit for the 2021
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Long before her
Barbie pink days, Margot Robbie was relishing in her punk era during her role in Suicide Squad. It only makes sense then that the actress would choose Burton’s McQueen—like in 2016 when she wore this silver, horse-embroidered gown for the film’s New York City premiere.
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Having Beyoncé wear your designs is probably the ultimate seal of approval. For Burton, it’s something that’s happened dozens of times. The star’s first major appearance in one of her designs came in 2019 for
The Lion King premiere when she wore a sparkling blazer. Clearly, Beyoncé took a liking to Burton’s designs as she’s worn several offerings from the brand during her Renaissance world tour.
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When Harry Styles first started transitioning from One Direction to his now style-star status, he hit up Burton for a host of two-piece suits. This one, a purple paisley number, certainly turned heads as the singer attended the 2017 ARIA Awards.
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Lady Gaga made history at the 2019 Academy Awards, becoming the first person to win an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA and Golden Globe in the same year. As she accepted the award for Best Original Song at the event, Gaga stunned in a sculptural black gown complete with padded hips. Gaga has repeatedly named Lee McQueen as her favorite designer so it’s rather poetic Burton dressed the star for one of the biggest nights of her career.
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Cate Blanchett, rewears and all, has been a regular proponent of Burton’s creations. She donned a hand-embroidered gown, complete with a feathered skirt, to the 2016 BAFTAs. She later reworked the dress in a top for the 2020 Venice Film Festival.
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Burton isn’t only a go-to for actors and musicians, but heads of state, too. Former first lady Michelle Obama wore a floral red gown by the British designer for a 2011 state dinner.