The fashion community has been waiting with bated breath to learn the fate of Alexander McQueen after it was announced last month that Sarah Burton was stepping down as creative director of the brand after 13 years at the helm. Would Kering appoint someone from within the brand? Put the label to rest? Hire an unknown? Now, just days after Burton took her final bow at Paris Fashion Week, our questions have been answered. Seán McGirr will succeed Burton as the creative head of McQueen.
“With his experience, personality, and creative energy, [McGirr] will bring a powerful creative language to Alexander McQueen while building on its unique heritage,” said Gianfilippo Testa, chief executive officer of Alexander McQueen, in a statement. François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering, added, “We are confident that Seán 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 most recently worked alongside Jonathan Anderson as the head of ready-to-wear at JW Anderson. He joined the brand in 2020 to specialize in menswear and went on to more recently add womenswear to his repertoire. Before that, the Dublin native studied at Central Saint Martins in London before spending some time at Dries Van Noten, Burberry, and Christophe Lemaire.
The appointment was a relatively quick one, as it was announced only in September that Burton would be leaving her post at McQueen. The designer joined the team back in 1996 as an intern while studying at Central Saint Martins, and returned to the label full-time upon her graduation a year later. She was appointed head of womenswear for the brand in 2000, working closely with Lee McQueen until his untimely death in 2010. That is when Burton took over, securing McQueen’s legacy within fashion.
While McGirr may be very well qualified for the job—his affinity for tailoring and his admitted love of surrealism, as well as his resume suggest he could be a fit for the brand—his appointment is clouded by the fact that all creative directors at Kering are now white men. Burton was the last exception. There is something magical that occurs when a woman designs for another woman, it can help explain the digital shrines to Miuccia Prada or the ferocity of Phoebe Philo’s fanbase, who often say no other designers “sees” them like she does. Perhaps it will be best described in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibit, “Women Dressing Women.”
Of course, we will have to wait and see what McGirr delivers before we can really know what what to expect from this new era of McQueen. As for the timeline around his first collection, that is still unknown. According to WWD, the McQueen team learned of their new boss on Tuesday, meaning they have likely yet to get to work.