Irish designer Seán McGirr named Alexander McQueen creative director

Dubliner McGirr, who will succeed Sarah Burton at the British luxury fashion house, praised for his ‘personality and creativity’

Irish designer Seán McGirr has been names as creative director of Alexander McQueen. Photograph: Robin Galiegue

The Irish fashion designer Seán McGirr has been appointed creative head of Alexander McQueen, following the departure of Sarah Burton after 13 years at the helm of the namesake fashion house and her final runway show in Paris this week dedicated to its founder.

McGirr, who is from Dublin and based in London, trained in Central St Martins under the legendary Louise Wilson (like Simone Rocha and Rory Parnell Rooney) where he obtained a master’s degree in 2014. He may be relatively unknown but is an industry insider armed with an impressive CV and considerable experience.

Chief executive of McQueen, Gianfilippo Testa, said McGirr’s “experience, personality and creativity” were the reasons for hiring him. It is understood, though not yet confirmed, that his first collection will be in February 2024.

McGirr comes to McQueen from J W Anderson, a Northern Irish designer, where he oversaw ready to wear. Before that, he worked with Dries Van Noten for a year in Antwerp, at Burberry and Uniqlo under Christophe Lemaire. Following his graduation, he was a stylist in Paris and in Tokyo, where he interned at Vogue Hommes Japan, visiting Hiroshima and remote areas of the countryside and falling in love with the area country.


His interest in fashion began as a teenager when he loved drawing and painting, taking clothing apart and sewing it back together. “Moving to London to study fashion just seemed completely necessary,” he told Change Fashion in 2011, shortly after launching his own first full collection in the English capital that year.

Growing up, his fashion icon was the American rock musician Marilyn Manson and he told the same magazine when questioned about men’s fashion that he recalled a conversation on the role of masculinity he had with Alber Elbaz, then creative director at Lanvin, who said that “as women become stronger, men are getting weaker but are becoming more beautiful”.

The departure of Sarah Burton, widely admired for dressing the Princess of Wales and, in particular, for her wedding dress, comes as a trend continues by Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of the brand’s parent company, Kering, of favouring relatively unknown designers over the more high profile to top positions in big fashion houses.

Reactions to the announcement on social media were mixed, particularly after Burton’s emotional bow at her final runway show in Paris where notes left for guests said that McQueen’s “wish was always to empower women”. A group of students at Central St Martins posted on X, formerly Twitter, that creative directors at Kering’s six fashion brands are now all white men.

For Paris-based consultant Patrick Scallon, former communications director at Dries Van Noten, however, the appointment comes “as a happy surprise”. He remembers McGirr as a “great creative talent and though our times as colleagues at Dries was too short, we all fully understood that joining J W Anderson in London was a valuable outlet for his clear talent. McQueen is a house with such a strong signature and Seán is only the second designer to head it after Lee’s death. Big shoes to fill all round but it’s a wonderful opportunity for him.”

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author