#SuzyNYFW: DVF has found a kindred spirit
Can you believe that he would be inspired by someone I myself knew from Studio 54!” said Diane von Furstenberg, referring to the British designer Jonathan Saunders and the muse he had chosen: Jane Forth, an It-girl figure from Andy Warhol’s Factory who was a glamorous fixture of Manhattan’s art and fashion scenes in the early 1970s.
Saunders independently selected Forth as his style inspiration for spring/summer 2018 and she just happened to have modelled the first line of dresses ever created by von Furstenberg, whom he met in 2010 at an event at 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister’s residence.
The meld of the designer, who is Scottish, and the international vibe attached to the von Furstenberg name, came into its own in this, his third, season of collaboration.
And it all happened on a swing down a ‘street’ created as a metallic runway. The models walked fast and furious, displaying outfits mostly to a mid-calf length, but with a liquidity in the way they floated across the body. That fluid movement displayed prints, but also the signature block patterns from Saunders. A dress might have askew squares in turquoise, pink and orange on a swing-along floor-sweeping skirt; others had swishy fringing, diagonal stripes or bold floral prints.
So was this a re-run of the hippie-deluxe era of DVF’s heyday?
“My sense of colour is much more kind of synthetic, I’m from the ‘90s – I’m kind of a different guy,” said Saunders, as the music blasted and the models continued their parade.
“The combination of those three things makes it a little less literal, but what’s great is the brand has optimism at its core,” he continued. “Colour and prints work so well in terms of the brand’s DNA, so it’s easy for me to work with that.”
In his former British, own-label collections, Saunders had a certain rigidity both in stripes and in angular shapes. But working with DVF seems to have softened his style – if not his striking palette of orange, royal blue, pine green – and so much more.
The most effective work was a modern mingling of masculine and feminine pieces, throwing in a denim top or slightly mannish tailoring.
In an era where so many houses in New York are being handed over to new designers, Saunders expressed enthusiasm for looking back at the company – and the original designer’s past.
“The brand was founded in such an incredible decade, in such an incredible city, at that moment where all of these creatives were creating so many wonderful things – how could you not have all these references to go from?” he said. “It’s been a wonderful collection to work on. The brand’s ethos is so great: prints, colours. I’m always going to have a synergy with that.”