Fashion Profile: Sarah Burton

Mimi ON May 12, 2011 AT 11:32 am

Sarah Burton

Sarah Burton

Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen and famed designer of Kate Middleton’s wedding gowns, began as an intern for McQueen back in 1996 when the company was just a small studio on Hoxton Square. As the company grew into the influential brand it is today, Burton steadily moved up in the stylish ranks. She became head of womenswear in 2000, and acted as McQueen’s main assistant and ally until his untimely death in 2010, when she was quickly appointed creative director.

Burton has expressed plans to always carry out McQueen’s legacy, but has firmly stated she does not want to “pretend” to be McQueen. Instead of reproducing his trademark over-the-top shows (which have included spectacles like fire rings and robots), Burton mixes his dramatic aesthetic with her own dashes of femininity. Where McQueen had somewhat dark tendencies, Burton admits that she feels more inclined towards the softer, lighter side of his design; however, her collections still please McQueen fans. Critics and friends of the designer agree that after 14 years with McQueen, Burton truly understands his vision and is the best person for the job.

Sarah Burton's designs for Alexander McQueen AW11

Sarah Burton's designs for Alexander McQueen AW11

Burton’s fresh design ideas were famously displayed in the two wedding dresses she designed for Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. By combining modern structure with traditional fabrics, the dresses encapsulate both McQueen’s artistic vision and Burton’s femininity, while also expressing the finest British craftsmanship.

Prince William and Kate Middleton wearing Sarah Burton's design

Prince William and Kate Middleton wearing Sarah Burton's design

Lace makers at the Royal School of Needlework executed Burton’s floral designs of handmade Chantilly and English lace, which adorned Kate’s first gown. Burton designed the iconic dress (which was worn during the ceremony) with a lace bodice, long lace sleeves, a V-shaped neckline, slight padding around the hips, a 2-meter train, and lace accents throughout the full skirt.

The second dress, worn at the royal wedding reception, was a simple white satin gazar gown with a full circle skirt, diamante embellishments around the waist, and a strapless sweetheart neckline topped with an angora bolero. Both dresses have become symbols of Princess Kate’s much-admired elegance, and the buzz surrounding the designs propelled Burton to worldwide fame and recognition.

Burton was raised in Manchester, England, where she attended Withington Girls’ School before studying print fashion at Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design. Burton has designed for celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Michelle Obama, and Plum Sykes, and her Spring 2012 collection will likely debut at Paris Fashion Week later on this summer.

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