Days later, the brand's parent company Kering announced Burton's replacement as Sean McGirr, who industry experts describe as a “relative newcomer”.
McGirr is also the first designer at the house not to have ever worked with founder Lee McQueen, whereas Burton – who has been with the brand for 26 years – built her reputation on the fact that she worked closely with McQueen for years before his death in 2010.
McGirr's immediate experience was as head of ready-to-wear at JW Anderson. He joined the team in 2020 to helm the men's collections, but eventually expanded his remit to womenswear.
The Dublin designer has a degree from the prestigious Central Saint Martins fashion school in London, and has worked at Dries Van Noten, and on menswear with Christophe Lemaire at Uniqlo, as well as starting his career with stints at Burberry and Vogue Hommes Japan.
“With his experience, personality and creative energy, he will bring a powerful creative language to Alexander McQueen while building on its unique heritage,” Alexander McQueen chief executive Gianfilippo Testa said in a statement.
The industry had been waiting with bated breath since Burton's revelation of her departure, which came amid Kering's broader restructuring. The French conglomerate also owns Balenciaga, Gucci and Bottega Veneta.
Burton is known for adding a more feminine touch to McQueen womenswear collections. Corseting, leather and volume have been recurring themes in her designs.
Fans and fashion insiders alike are now interested to see how McGirr will add his own spin to the label's signature aesthetic, especially given his experience is mainly in menswear via JW Anderson and Uniqlo, although he was the womenswear designer for Dries Van Noten in Antwerp.
Kering has not yet announced a date for McGirr's debut show, but the group's chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault said the company is “confident that Sean McGirr will be able to pursue its journey with a new creative impetus”.
Despite the excitement, some have pointed out that with McGirr's appointment, all the creative directors at Kering-owned labels “are now white men”.
The fashion blog 1 Granary, run by students of Central Saint Martins, shared a composite image of said creative directors with the caption: “We hear so much about 'change,' while diversity and equality are used as marketing strategies every day. But in truth, nothing seems to have evolved.”
This is not strictly true, though. At fellow fashion conglomerate LVMH four women hold top positions: Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior and Camille Miceli for Pucci.
Elsewhere, it was announced at London Fashion Week, that Chioma Nnadi will take over operations from Edward Enninful at British Vogue, making her the first black female head of the fashion title. While earlier this year, Pharrell Williams delivered his first menswear collection for Louis Vuitton.