From Intern To Creative Director: How Sarah Burton Got Her Job At McQueen

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The secret to getting a fashion internship and transforming it into a full-time job — nevermind a full-time creative director position — is unique from person to person, but no one will argue with the fact that it takes heaps of hard work, talent, a healthy attitude, and good timing. Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen is one of the most lauded figures in fashion today, and she actually started out at the house as just an intern. So…how'd she land the gig?
"I went to a really academic school, but I always wanted to do fashion, and I was lucky enough to get in [to Central Saint Martins], and my tutor at the time, Simon Ungless, was one of Lee’s best friends, and he said, 'Oh yeah, you should go and work for my friend Lee.' So, I interned with Lee for a year, went back to college, and then came back. I was really lucky in many ways."
So, first — connections! But that will only get you so far, says Burton:
"It’s funny, because I sometimes ask that myself. I think maybe I was quite shy. I wasn’t the trendiest girl at college. I just loved what I was doing. I loved research at the time. I think I was always in the print room working."
So, second, hard work! Sarah goes on to describe her time at McQueen and what she learned from Lee that helped her land her current job. And of course, she has a few words for her current interns: "We have quite a lot of interns and young designers who come for training, and I really feel that it’s important that they know how to patch and cut, that they know how to treat fabrics. What’s always been great about this place is that there’s not just one person who does jersey, one person who does denim. Everybody does everything, and everyone knows the whole world that we’re working in."
Well, there you go! Talent and versatility! Read the rest of the interview on InterviewMagazine.com.
Photo: Courtesy of Interview
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