NEW YORK — The house of Alexander McQueen has named Sarah Burton, a longtime colleague of the late designer, to be the new creative director of the brand.
In a statement from London released Thursday, Burton said she intends “to stay true to his legacy” by turning out “modern beautifully crafted clothes.”
The announcement was part of a series of shake-ups.
At luxury label Hermes, womenswear artistic director Jean Paul Gaultier is being replaced by Lacoste’s Christophe Lemaire.
And Theory confirms a Women’s Wear Daily report that Olivier Theyskens, formerly of Nina Ricci and Rochas, will design a capsule collection for next year.
McQueen, hailed as a creative genius in the fashion world, committed suicide in his London apartment in February.
Burton joined McQueen’s company in 1996, a year before graduating Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design.
She most recently served as head of design for womenswear.
Parent company Gucci Group said that because Burton worked so closely with McQueen she has “the vision necessary to take it forward.”
“As a business we remain absolutely committed to the Alexander McQueen company which has proved to have a strong customer loyalty and has shown to be a resilient brand in the aftermath of the tragic loss of its founder,” said Gucci Group GEO Robert Polet.
Susan Cernek, Glamour’s senior online fashion and beauty editor, said hiring from within was respectful to McQueen — and kind to any designer who would be trying to fill such big shoes.
“It seems like a smart move to appoint someone who worked so closely with him,” she said.
“Someone from the outside might be in an uncomfortable position to try to channel someone who is so revered so soon after he passed away.
“Seemingly the vision that Sarah will bring will be really closely aligned, not his, but closely aligned.”
She adds: “It’s hard to reinterpret the legacy of a house when it’s not your name and you don’t have the padding of time.”
Gaultier and Hermes are not completely severing their ties.
Gaultier will oversee the spring-summer 2011 collection to be previewed in October, and Lemaire will take over for the fall-winter 2011 collection.
Hermes also holds a 45 per cent in Gaultier’s namesake house.
Calling their seven-year partnership fruitful, Hermes said in a statement the collaboration was ending to allow Gaultier “to concentrate on his own projects.”
Gaultier has always toned down for Hermes the drama associated with his own line and the edgy costumes he designs for pop stars such as Madonna.
But his collections for the former saddlemaker — still known best for its leather goods — garnered consistent critical acclaim.