There are changes afoot at Diane von Furstenberg—colorful, sparkling, delightful changes. The first collection under the helm of newly appointed chief creative officer Jonathan Saunders is out and the results are breathtakingly fun.
When Von Furstenberg (full disclosure: the designer is married to Barry Diller, who is chairman of IAC, the parent company of The Daily Beast) announced Saunders as her heir this past May, the match made sense to most in the fashion community. Saunders, who shuttered his London-based line in December 2015, has become known for his bold use of prints and color, something that he and the DVF brand have very much in common. It was this kindred design aesthetic that caught Von Furstenberg’s eye.
“Jonathan’s extraordinary passion for colors and prints, his effortless designs, and his desire to make women feel beautiful make him the perfect creative force to lead DVF into the future,” Von Furstenberg said in a press release at the time of the announcement.
Saunders, for his part, was excited to build on the success of DVF. “It’s a great brand to work with. All of the values that Diane started the brand, the effortlessness, the ease, the femininity, all of those values are so important to hold on to. And then print and color which I obviously love since it’s always been a part of what I do with my own brand and for other brands I’ve worked for. So all of those things blended together equals the new collection of DVF,” Saunders told The Daily Beast.
The result is a stunning first collection, particularly given that Saunders only had three months to pull it together, plus overhaul the accessories line.
Saunders prides himself on creating high-quality clothes that are beautiful, but also “accessible and democratic.” With the Spring/Summer 2017 collection, he takes the staples in every woman’s wardrobe and elevates them in fresh and exciting ways. He mixes prints, chops off sleeves to give blouses an asymmetrical touch, and emphasizes dashes of detail, like stylishly oversized waistbands on skirts and pants.
There are lots of ankle and calf length dresses and skirts, as well as some pops of furry punch (like on the hood of a black, blue, and white check jacket or flying solo in a series of brightly colored stoles). Add in a luxurious line of all-sequins pieces that sparkle so delicately they look like sheets of tiny diamonds, and Saunders has everything a modern woman needs to shine wherever she’s headed.
“Together [new CEO Paolo Riva and I] have been able to take a brand that’s known and loved and respected because of its founder and because of the reason why she started it, but be able to take it into the next decade,” Saunders said.
This next decade includes lots of bespoke details. Saunders says that all of the vibrant fabrics, prints, and a series of fresh new laces used in his collection were designed and made in house. They give the collection a lively and bold aesthetic that begs for mixing and matching between patterns, but also between entirely different types of fabric altogether. And it all seems to work.
“I love kimono prints and mixing different prints and patterns together. There’s a spontaneity to it that I kind of started with on the mannequin,” Saunders said.
When asked how he navigated what elements to carry over from the iconic brand, Saunders laughs, “It’s just my job.” Then he explained how he started with the very fundamentals of what the brand has stood for since it was founded decades ago.
“You think about it from a philosophical point of view, you think about words that you associate with the brand,” Saunders said. “So, I think ‘provocative’ is an interesting word that maybe hasn’t been at the forefront of how they’ve presented the collections recently. Diane’s quite a provocative person.”
Saunders’s inaugural effort carries on this provocative tradition, but filtered through his own distinct point of view. The relationship to the brand of old is there, but this is intended as a new vision that will continue to make, inspire, and empower the next generations of DVF women.