Kate Middleton’s tribute to Sarah Burton? Princess sports her blue Alexander McQueen suit to visit a Surrey prison – after designer who made her wedding dress leaves brand
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The Princess of Wales has seemingly paid tribute to Sarah Burton with her outfit today after the designer announced she would be stepping down as creative director of Alexander McQueen.
Following the news, Kate, 41, opted for a blue suit from the brand to visit a male prison in Surrey to learn how inmates are being supported by a charity to recover from their addictions.
The royal’s decision to re-wear the designer outfit came after the British label confirmed its spring/summer 2024 show in Paris on September 30 would be Sarah’s last.
Sarah – who joined the firm in 1997 as an intern and just three weeks later became head of womenswear – shot to worldwide fame after designing Kate’s intricate ivory wedding dress.
Kate has since worn Alexander McQueen for a number of engagements and high profile outings – including her milestone 40th birthday portraits and the ensemble she wore in 2018 for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
The Princess of Wales has seemingly paid tribute to Sarah Burton with her outfit today after the designer announced she would be stepping down as creative director of Alexander McQueen
The royal also wore the label to the King’s Coronation this year and was radiant in a red McQueen dress at Royal Ascot.
Kate was perhaps showing further support for the Macclesfield-born designer today by wearing an Alexander McQueen ensemble.
Sarah took over leadership of the firm, as creative director, when the brand’s founder, Lee Alexander McQueen, died by suicide aged 40 in 2010.
The brand praised her ‘exceptional vision and creativity’, while Sarah said: ‘I am so proud of everything I’ve done and of my incredible team at Alexander McQueen.
‘I am looking forward to the future and my next chapter and will always carry this treasured time with me.’
Her departure has prompted speculation that she could set up her own label.
She created an intricate ivory wedding gown with an 8ft train which Kate wore in 2011 – and Mrs Burton became one of the princess’s favoured designers.
In addition to Princess Kate’s outfits for special occasions, she has also favoured the British fashion house for stylish, chic looks as she carries out royal engagements – and even family days out.
Sarah Burton, the woman who designed Princess Kate’s wedding dress in 2011, is leaving Alexander McQueen after more than two decades
The Princess of Wales opted for a lace Alexander McQueen wedding gown when she tied the knot to Prince William at Westminster Abbey in 2011
Indeed one of the royal’s most stylish looks, her brilliant white suit with sharp tailored lines, was designed by McQueen.
Mrs Burton was awarded with an Order of the British Empire in 2012 for her services to the fashion industry, and remains one of the brightest lights in British fashion, having a huge impact on everyday style and formal wear, and designing for some of the world’s most famous names.
Senior leaders at Kering praised Burton for leaving an ‘indelible mark’ with her vision and creativity.
‘She kept and continued Lee´s heritage, attention to detail and unique vision, while adding her own personal, highly creative touch,’ said François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, in a statement.
The fashion house did not give details about who will replace Mrs Burton.
Mrs Burton is also credited for turning the brand around – taking it to being a commercial success.
In 2022, Alexander McQueen’s sales were €830 million, up from €758 million in 2021, according to Vogue. This is a huge increase from 2014, when sales were estimated at €220 million.
As well as Kate, the brand is a favourite of dozens of A-listers, including Michelle Obama, Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga.
Following the news, Kate, 41, opted for a blue suit from the brand to visit a male prison in Surrey to learn how inmates are being supported by a charity to recover from their addictions
During the visit, the Princess spoke to members of the Forward Trust about how the charity is helping those with addictions within the criminal justice system
Kate arrives for a visit to HMP High Down in Surrey with her fingers bandaged today
Kate Middleton visits HMP High Down in Surrey today as she is checked by a sniffer dog
The Princess of Wales walks through the gates at HMP High Down in Surrey this morning
Mrs Burton’s exit is the latest in a string of changes for the luxury fashion group – who also own Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta and Gucci among others. It follows Alessandro Michele’s exit from Gucci in November 2022.
For today’s outing, Kate also paid tribute to her children by donning a necklace complete with their initials.
She wore the £1,070 ‘Personalised Gold Midnight Moon Necklace’ by Daniella Draper, which was engraved with the letters ‘G, L, C’ in honour of her children, Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five.
The princess joined visitors being checked by a drug detection dog as she began her tour of addiction services in a prison.
Kate also joked about her strapped-up fingers after using a trampoline, as she spoke to the parents of an ex-offender who joined her on the visit to HMP High Down in Sutton, Surrey.
The princess, who is patron of addiction charity The Forward Trust, visited the Category C prison to see its work helping those in the criminal justice system recover from addiction.
As she went through an entrance used by around 2,000 visitors a month, she was shown the reaction of black labrador Penny when something is found.
Kate said: ‘Amazing. It’s incredible, it’s very calm and controlled. It’s not intimidating.’
The Princess of Wales is known to favour designs from the British fashion house, including this stunning scarlet number she sported when attending Royal Ascot earlier this summer
Elsewhere, Kate wore an Alexander McQueen dress to the coronation
One of Kate’s most cherished pieces from Alexander McQueen is her white suit with sharp tailoring (pictured at the Commonwealth Games with Princess Charlotte in 2022)
Princess Kate has worn this white, asymmetric Grecian-style gown by McQueen on two occasions – recycling it for the BAFTAs this year
The trip came ahead of Addiction Awareness Week in October, with this year’s theme Everybody Knows Somebody aiming to highlight the range of people in society affected by the issue.
The princess also met serving prisoners receiving support for their addiction at High Down before visiting the prison’s award-winning restaurant, The Clink.
She spoke with inmates being trained in hospitality, complimenting them on the ‘delicious’ looking food and meeting families working with The Forward Trust.
Richard Stephenson, who was a client of The Forward Trust more than 20 years ago and recovered from his own addiction, was there with his family to meet Kate.
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The NHS service manager, known as Steff, said: ‘It’s really important people from different genres take interest and ask questions.
‘It’s about believing people can change… I’m a professional now. It’s really important to come from that and meet someone who may be a future queen.’
Mark Ash, an ex-inmate of HMP High Down who has recovered from his addiction and works with The Forward Trust to support others, also spoke with Kate.
He welcomed seeing someone in a high-status position highlighting addiction, adding: ‘When someone like Kate puts herself on that platform people are going to listen because she’s the Princess of Wales. It’s honourable of her to want to step in.’
Kate became a patron for The Forward Trust in 2021 when the charity merged with Action on Addiction, which was one of the first charities she became a patron of in 2012.
The trust works in 25 prisons across the UK, helping people address issues including substance misuse, mental health, housing and employment for those leaving prison, and improving relationships with friends and family, including children.
High Down governor Emily Martin said of the princess: ‘She’s very natural and clearly genuinely interested which I think it’s really important.’ She added that Kate was ‘genuinely curious and wants to help’.
Ms Martin said: ‘I think prison visits, it’s an interesting place, because not an awful lot is known about prisons. It’s really nice to get some positive press and for her to see some of the good work [we’re] trying to achieve.’
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