Sarah Burton has paid tribute to her late boss Lee Alexander McQueen, declaring she was “so lucky” to work with him before his death.
The fashion world was left shocked in 2010 when news broke that McQueen had taken his own life at the age of 40.
Burton stepped up to take the reins at his namesake label as the creative director – a role she has held ever since.
“Well, really, I was so lucky to work for Lee,” she reflected in a chat with American Vogue. “I started to work with Lee in 1996, and I had this amazing time of my life. He was this incredible man, and I very much grew up with McQueen. I started when I was 21 and I continued there until he died. It was all-encompassing; it was this magical place focused on storytelling and creativity, and very, very personal and like a family.”
Burton’s status as a world-class designer was cemented in 2011 when she was chosen to design Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.
Admitting her initial reservations about leading the McQueen brand when the job was thrust upon her, Burton explained how she quickly changed her mindset when she started in the gig.
“The initial thing that I thought (when I assumed the creative director role) was that Lee was this storyteller and I was kind of good at finishing his sentences, but I realised I had to begin the sentences and it had to be about my stories,” the designer shared. “Lee always said to me, ‘You have to make things your own, you have to believe in it, and it has to be an emotional thing, what we do.’ I think at the very beginning I was wondering, ‘OK, how do you make it yourself?’
“So much time has passed since the years Lee was here, but he will always be such a huge part of who I am and such a huge part of me creatively, because I grew up with all of his beliefs and creativity. We were finding how to be true to what McQueen is – which I didn’t ever find a problem with because I was a part of Lee’s world – but, yet, make it our own. That was the challenge.”
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