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After much speculation during Paris Fashion Week, Alexander McQueen has tapped JW Anderson’s head of ready-to-wear Seán McGirr as creative director, succeeding Sarah Burton, who spent 26 years at the brand and 13 as creative director, the brand announced Tuesday.
Burton bid farewell to the house in an emotional final show in Paris on Saturday, dedicated to brand founder Lee McQueen, after her departure was announced earlier this month. Burton took over as creative director in 2010, following McQueen’s death.
“We are delighted to welcome Seán 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,” said Alexander McQueen CEO Gianfilippo Testa in a statement.
McGirr joined JW Anderson in 2020 as head of menswear before taking over womenswear to lead all ready-to-wear. Prior to that, he was women’s designer for Dries Van Noten and was part of Uniqlo’s creative offices working on Christophe Lemaire’s collections. He started his career assisting at Burberry and Vogue Hommes Japan after graduating from Central Saint Martins’s MA fashion programme in 2014.
McGirr’s appointment continues a suite of shake-ups across Kering’s portfolio over the last year. McQueen appointed Testa in 2022. Gucci’s new creative director Sabato de Sarno debuted last week at Milan Fashion Week, and longtime CEO Marco Bizzarri departed following the show. Bizzarri’s permanent replacement is yet-to-be-announced. Francesca Bellettini, the CEO of Saint Laurent, was also appointed deputy CEO of Kering in July.
The appointment follows a trend of hiring designers who are relatively unknown to the public but hold important design positions at key brands, following the success of Gucci’s appointment of Alessandro Michele from within its ranks in 2015. Matthieu Blazy was promoted to lead Kering’s Bottega Veneta in November 2021 after serving as design director. Simone Bellotti replaced Rhuigi Villaseñor at Bally earlier this year, while Ann Demeulemeester promoted menswear designer Stefano Gallici to succeed Ludovic de Saint Sernin, who departed in May after just one season. Replacing Burton with a male designer is a notable loss of one of fashion’s few female designers leading a major luxury house, industry observers noted.
“Alexander McQueen is a house we are passionate about, and we are confident that Seán McGirr will be able to pursue its journey with a new creative impetus,” said Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault. “We look forward to opening this new chapter in the history of this unique brand.”
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