Sarah Burton

Shonagh Marshall

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA075

Sarah Burton (née Heard) was born in 1974 and grew up in Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK. Burton studied Fashion Print at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design. As a third-year student, she was an intern for a year with designer Lee Alexander McQueen. In 1997, when Burton graduated, she was given a full-time position in the company as Alexander McQueen’s personal assistant.

After three years at Alexander McQueen, Burton was named as head of design for women’s wear in 2000. After the untimely death of her boss, mentor, and friend McQueen in 2010, Burton was named creative director of the House of Alexander McQueen. Her first catwalk show, for spring/summer 2011, was well received by the international fashion press. While it was a difficult task to take over from the late McQueen, it was widely reported that Burton had kept the design signatures of the house but also brought femininity to the brand.

In April 2011 Burton became internationally famous after she designed Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress for her marriage to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in London. In May 2011 “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York. Burton played a huge part in making the exhibition possible, giving curator Andrew Burton full access to the Alexander McQueen archive. Also in this year Burton was awarded the Woman of the Year award by Harper’s Bazaar and Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards.

Burton’s role encompasses creative direction of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and accessories as well as of the diffusion line McQ, which is also made up of women’s, men’s, and accessories collections. In 2012 Burton was awarded International Designer of the Year at the Elle UK awards, was included in the Time 100: The Most Influential People in the World, and received an OBE for her services to the British fashion industry. Her spring/summer women’s ready-to-wear collection of 2012 was celebrated and it was noted that her aesthetic continued to honor Alexander McQueen’s design heritage, yet her “underwater goddess” inspiration was played out with soft, feminine, neutral colors and ruffles of tulle.

Burton lives in London with her fashion photographer husband David Burton and in 2013 gave birth to twins.

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Fox Imogen. ““Alexander McQueen Protégé Sarah Burton Steals the Show in Paris”.” The Guardian , 5 October 2010 .

Find in Library O’Hagan Andrew. ““Lee, Me and the Duchess of Cambridge: Sarah Burton on Life at the Helm at Alexander McQueen”.” The Telegraph , 14 September 2014 .

Parker Jessica. “Sarah Burton.” Interview , March 2012.

Sarah Burton.” Alexander McQueen, n.d.