Never a dull moment in the fashion industry, eh? After just 18 months, designer Jonathan Saunders has stepped down from his role as chief creative officer at Diane von Furstenberg — effective immediately. His resignation, confirmed via press release by the label on Friday, comes as a shock — and without the typical rumor mill that swarms the industry just before as abrupt a departure as this.
After stepping away from his eponymous label and relocating from London to New York, many felt the brand had taken a new direction under Saunders, seeing much praise from the toughest of the industry’s critics. But reports of friction between the founder and the chief creative officer was common.
In a statement provided by the company, Saunders minced words in terms of hinting at any explanation for his departure, instead reflecting on his tenure at the label. “I am grateful for Diane’s support and for the opportunity of guiding this iconic brand," he wrote in an official press release. "I am so proud of everything we have accomplished in the past 18 months. I thank the incredible team for their dedication and support, and will continue to be a friend and admirer of the brand." Saunders, whose passion for colors and patterns convinced many he was the perfect person for the job, is considered to have turned the label around.
Adding to his statement, von Furstenberg offered her gratitude for his time at the company: "I am so thankful for Jonathan’s beautiful work and the effort and dedication he has put into DVF in the last 18 months. He will leave an important and lasting heritage to the brand." According to Business of Fashion, tension between the two creatives was common, stretching back to Saunders' appointment in 2016 when the Scottish designer requested von Furstenberg not attend the showing of his first collection for the brand. Additionally, its alleged that Saunders insisted on being copied on all of von Furstenberg's email communication with the the team(s).
Upon his arrival, Saunders revamped the brand in its entirety. From the logo to store concepts, to the embracing of current industry topics that von Furstenberg had rarely tapped into before (i.e.: an increased amount of diversity, including representation for their gender fluid consumers), the DvF brand was re-energized, and stronger than ever. Saunders' last collection for DvF will be pre-fall 2018, which recently showed this month.