In-house designer to succeed Alexander McQueen
* In-house Sarah Burton suceeds Alexander McQueen
* Alex McQueen sales have boomed since suicide
PARIS, May 27 (Reuters) - The fashion house Alexander McQueen has appointed in-house designer Sarah Burton to succeed its eponymous founder and star designer, who committed suicide in February.
Thursday's move ends months of speculation about the future artistic direction of the fashion company whose sales have boomed since the designer's death.
When Alexander McQueen's final collection, inspired by painting's Old Masters, was shown in Paris in March there was no talk of a successor. The company then just pledged to continue developing the brand.
Control of Alexander McQueen was acquired in 2001 by the Gucci Group, which also owns Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, and is itself part of the PPR (PRTP.PA) retail and luxury group.
"Having worked alongside Lee McQueen for more than 14 years, she (Burton) has a deep understanding of his vision, which will allow the company to stay true to its core values," said Jonathan Akeroyd, President and CEO of Alexander McQueen.
Burton had been working for McQueen since 1996 and has run the compamy's women's ready-to-wear since 2000.
She studied fashion at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design in London, graduating in 1997.
Alexander McQueen, whose real name was Lee McQueen, was artistic director of Givenchy, owned by LVMH (LVMH.PA) between 1997 and 2000.
The PPR fashion house is the second this week to announce a change of artistic director.
On Wednesday, Hermes (HRMS.PA) said Jean-Paul Gaultier, one of France's most respected fashion signatures, would no longer design the luxury group's women ready-to-wear but it would keep its 45 percent stake in the Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion company.
Gaultier, who earned rave reviews from the fashion world during his seven years working for Hermes, is to be replaced by Christian Lemaire, the creative director of privately owned apparel company Lacoste.
(Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by Sharon Lindores)