Royal Commission for Former Pupil
The School is immensely proud of the achievements of former Withington pupil Sarah Burton, designer of the stunning wedding dress worn by Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, at her marriage to Prince William at Westminster Abbey on Friday, 29th April. Sarah's creation, seen for the first time in public by an estimated two billion television viewers worldwide, was universally acclaimed for its elegance and sophistication.
Sarah, Creative Director at the famed fashion house Alexander McQueen, designed not only the bride and bridesmaid's dresses for the royal wedding, but also the Duchess's fabulous evening gown which she wore at the second reception later in the day. Sarah took over the reins of the famous British label in May 2010, following Alexander McQueen's death in February the same year.
Her Art Teacher at Withington, Diane Connell, told the BBC she was thrilled for her former "brilliant pupil with amazing creativity". She added: "I taught her from 11 to 18, which was secondary level; she was just a brilliant pupil, her creativity was amazing. Even from an early age you could tell she'd be doing something in the creative arts. She was very easy going, cheerful; very modest about her abilities and it's obviously carried through.
"She's just amazing, she always was. She worked for McQueen for a long time; she did an awful lot in the background. She was a brilliant draughtswoman, absolutely brilliant at the rest as well – and she deserved it [the royal wedding dress commission]. I thought the dress was wonderful. It was very elegant, very very Sarah, very feminine and it had a wow factor without being nastily wow."
After leaving Withington in 1993, Sarah, née Heard, attended Manchester Polytechnic to complete a foundation course, before moving to London to study Print Fashion at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. She graduated in 1997. "At one point I was going to study Fine Art at Ruskin College in Oxford, but I decided I wanted to pursue my interest in fashion," she said in the February 2010 issue of Vogue.
Last October Sarah stole the show during Paris Fashion Week with her first womenswear collection. At the time, Imogen Fox, the Guardian's deputy fashion editor, reported: "In an extraordinarily beautiful show, Burton succeeded in both being faithful to the late designer's distinctive design ethos while taking the label into a new era."
In a statement released by the house of Alexander McQueen after the royal wedding, Sarah said: "It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with Catherine Middleton to create her wedding dress, and I have enjoyed every moment of it. It was such an incredible honour to be asked, and I am so proud of what we and the Alexander McQueen team have created. I am delighted that the dress represents the best of British craftsmanship. Alexander McQueen's designs are all about bringing contrasts together to create startling and beautiful clothes and I hope that by marrying traditional fabrics and lacework, with a modern structure and design we have created a beautiful dress for Catherine on her wedding day.
"The last few months have been very exciting and an incredible experience for my team and I as we have worked closely with Catherine to create this dress under conditions of the strictest secrecy. Understandably, Catherine has been very keen to keep the details of her dress a secret, which is every bride's prerogative, and we gave an undertaking to keep our role confidential until the day of the wedding.
"Catherine looked absolutely stunning today, and the team at Alexander McQueen are very proud of what we have created. The dress was just one component of a spectacular day, and I do not think it is appropriate to comment any further beyond saying that I personally am very grateful and honoured to have been given the opportunity to work on this project, and I wish TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge every good wish for the future."