Los Angeles Confidential - - Contents - BY BRYN KENNY

With a con­fi­dent print-cen­tric Spring col­lec­tion, Jonathan Saun­ders debuts as DVF’s first-ever chief cre­ative of­fi­cer.

The name Diane von Fursten­berg evokes a rush of unique at­tributes: fem­i­nin­ity, em­pow­er­ment, con­fi­dence, grace. It also con­jures New York it­self. So when de­signer Jonathan Saun­ders pre­sented his first col­lec­tion for the iconic brand for Spring/Sum­mer 2017, many won­dered how a man from Scot­land might in­ter­pret the vi­sion of a cos­mopoli­tan woman. The an­swer, it turns out, is quite suc­cess­fully.

“I saw it straight away— that ef­fort­less sense of ease, fem­i­nin­ity with­out be­ing too girly or frou-frou, sen­su­al­ity, and a provoca­tive na­ture,” says Saun­ders, 39, who built his name in Lon­don with his epony­mous, print-heavy col­lec­tion (which shut­tered in late 2015 af­ter 12 years in busi­ness), and who is now Diane von Fursten­berg’s first cre­ative head not named Diane von Fursten­berg. “Tex­tiles, and printed tex­tiles in gen­eral, were al­ways some­thing I loved, so there is a def­i­nite syn­ergy be­tween what I stand for and what the brand stands for.”

As von Fursten­berg her­self steps away from de­sign­ing to fo­cus more on her phil­an­thropic work, Saun­ders has segued with ease into the newly cre­ated role of chief cre­ative of­fi­cer. With about three months to present his first col­lec­tion—which fea­tures orig­i­nal Saun­ders prints—there wasn’t much time to sweat the small stuff.

“It was def­i­nitely a bap­tism by fire,” he says. “But there was such good­will and be­lief within the team about what I wanted to do, which en­abled me to go in with the ve­loc­ity that was re­quired to put a col­lec­tion to­gether within that pe­riod of time.”

That ve­loc­ity-driven re­sult is a lively, eclec­tic mix of printed sep­a­rates, in­clud­ing bold, wide-legged trousers, struc­tured out­er­wear, flow­ing skirts, ver­sa­tile shifts, and, yes, wrap dresses that stay true to the brand’s DNA. Printed silks and cot­tons—from an eye-catch­ing Sakura blos­som pat­tern to more graphic stripes and color block­ing—cre­ate an over­all sense of play­ful flu­id­ity. Un­sur­pris­ingly, Saun­ders says he turned to dancers and chore­og­ra­phers such as Michael Clark and Pina Bausch when con­jur­ing up the new sil­hou­ettes, not­ing, “Dancers are in­cred­i­ble ex­am­ples of body move­ment and sen­su­al­ity.”

And while DVF devo­tees will ap­pre­ci­ate Saun­ders’s re­spect for the la­bel’s her­itage, he didn’t shy away from thread­ing his own point of view through­out. One wrap-style dress in par­tic­u­lar man­ages to com­bine a mix­ture of seem­ingly ev­ery print in the col­lec­tion—a tes­ta­ment to his will­ing­ness to ven­ture into un­ex­pected ter­ri­tory.

“When Diane started the brand, it was about ef­fort­less clothes, but also in­ter­est­ing clothes. These weren’t sim­ple, re­tir­ing dresses—they were bold, bright dresses that hap­pen to have a sense of ease,” he says. “That still feels re­ally rel­e­vant to­day.” The Grove, LA, 323-792-2258; dvf.com

“Printed tex­tiles were al­ways some­thing I loved, so there is a def­i­nite syn­ergy,” says Jonathan Saun­ders of his in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the iconic DVF brand. LEFT, FROM TOP: Cir­cle shoul­der hand­bag, Diane von Fursten­berg ($298); col­or­ful de­tails from the...

Saun­ders’s bold mix of pat­terns is ap­par­ent in this dress ($698) and origami belt ($178) from his new col­lec­tion. “I SAW [THE DVF HER­ITAGE] STRAIGHT AWAY— THAT EF­FORT­LESS EASE, FEM­I­NIN­ITY, SEN­SU­AL­ITY, A PROVOCA­TIVE NA­TURE.” —jonathan saun­ders

Midi dress ($498) and ham­mered-gold ear­ring ($168). right: Scarf-hem tiered dress ($598), belt ($178), Steamer hand­bag ($798), and Laredo heels ($378).

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