This morning, WWD released an interview with Sarah Burton, the woman who served as design director for the respected designer Alexander McQueen for the past 14 years, until his tragic and untimely passing earlier this year. The designer, who is presenting her first solo collection for he label on October 5th in Paris, is understandably nervous and hopes to merge her ideas with those of her mentor.
"I don't think it has to have as much angst in it. I think it will become softer," she mused, seated at a broad white desk at McQueen's headquarters here, which boasts a snarling, upright polar bear lording over the lobby. "There will always be this McQueen spirit and essence. But, of course, I'm a woman so maybe more from a woman's point of view.
"There's always got to be some darkness, because otherwise you don't appreciate what's light," she continued. "I've had a training in darkness, but I don't feel that it's necessarily a personal thing to me. I'm a bit lighter."
Oh girl! Don't mess with it too much. We'd be lying if we said that we weren't a tad bit concerned about the future of the brand, but we think the wisest thing they could have done is keep McQueen's team in place.
The article goes over the usual talking points: her childhood, her time in school (Central St. Martins, of course), her internship with McQueen that led to her being hired directly out of college, and what it was like working for McQueen in the late nineties, before he scored a design gig at Givenchy and Gucci Group bought a majority of his business in 2000. There are some humorous stories about working for McQuueen, now known for his extravagances, back when he was unable to afford heat for his staff. She did reveal that although she plans to continue the tradition of his work -- the beautiful, masterfully crafted gowns with emphasis on shape and fabrications -- she will not be mimicking his lavish runway shows. "That was very much Lee's territory -- the spectacular show. In that way, I can't try and pretend to be Lee," she said.
It does seem, though, when all is said and done that Burton is gracefully handling the pressure of being thrust, unwittingly, onto the world's stage. She comes off as a person who was quite content behind the scenes and is now dealt a sudden hit of fame, and incredible pressure, due to a tragedy that came at the hands of her mentor. The last paragraph, though, was especially sweet and telling:
"He was such a lovely man, and his mind never switched off.... He was so important to me. You just wanted to make him happy, look after him," Burton said. "Although I felt that I protected him, now I feel that he protected me."