Award winning Scottish designer
who this year celebrates his 10th year anniversary in fashion –
spoke candidly about his career:
initial stages, struggles, highlights, inspirations, aspirations
in interview with fashion journalist Lou Stoppard at the
Victoria and Albert Museum , London.
(image from showstudio.com):
Fashion designer Jonathan Saunders
at interview with journalist Lou Stoppard
with just that bit of
Cheeky Potty- mouth Good naturedness
Jonathan reflected on his early years
as student and fashion industry newbie.
He studied product and printed textile design at the
Glasgow School of Art and was always
fascinated by the emotive power of colour.
He intended to undertake an MA course at the Royal College of Art
but instead pursued graduate work at
Central St. Martins College of Art and Design (CSM) –
a decision which was to set him on an incredible trajectory.
He recalled the important day of his entrance interview
arriving at CSM, noting the fashion parade of students
and there was he
“… looking like a tramp and nearly s—-ing himself … “
Yet without ever having planned on a career in fashion
he accepted the offer from CSM.
He immediately felt a bit out of his depth:
“(having been) involved in furniture (design) suddenly
involved with the human body was challenging.”
Though experiencing a sense of being thrown into the deep end
he didn’t sink
but floated instead
He credits CSM with encouraging him
“… to form an opinion, to have a point of view …
to have a critical eye … “
He continued to develop his skill for colour use and
screen printing during a time when
“print wasn’t on people’s wavelength.”
Clearly a risk-taker, a forward-thinker
he held fast to his ‘print’ point of view,
which later was the making of his success.
Graduating in 2002 and at only 24 years old
and truly a relative fashion ingenue –
Jonathan’s first collection made the cover of British Vogue.
He believes that his “naivete maybe sparked a note with people.”
He suggests that, “fashion people liked me (because) at the time
my clothing was accessible.”
Although greeted with almost instantaneous high praise,
Jonathan was troubled by the dilemma of
“being a brand and wanting to try new things …
(it is) finding the right balance between (satisfying) the customer
and (satisfying) your expression as a designer.”
This lead to a process of knowledge acquisition:
of self, of concept, of language
What was it that he wanted his clothes to communicate?
As Jonathan eloquently stated,
“fashion is a story to tell, a feeling …”
To accomplish further how to write his own
fashion language and support it,
practicalities need to be considered.
He worked gratis for Pucci, Christian LaCroix, Alexander McQueen
“…to just learn…
how the industry works,
how (to build) a viable business …
how to (move) from a tiny bedroom operation
to being a company.”
And all this he did.
Today Jonathan Saunders is an
internationally renown fashion designer.
For several years he showed in New York but is now happily back
showing his collections at London Fashion Week.
He is known for his unique and innovative use of
colour, print and traditional methods of silk screening.
“I’m a colourist (using) colour to tell a story and have
the consumer(s) interpret it in their own way …
clashing (colours) gets me excited … colour exists already
(it is) how to combine colours (to make)
a new colour palette.”
Although technology can afford him
inventive methods of creating his textiles,
Jonathan still uses a traditional method of silk screening.
He finds, “a joy in the mistakes of (things) slightly crude.”
It seems a distinct and wonderful quality of beauty in
the perfection of imperfection
of which he greatly appreciates.
His fashion philosophy rests comfortably with
the organic, the natural, the fundamentals.
What’s next for Jonathan?
… only if there is something new to learn from the partnership.
… he tries to create a new textile each season.
Words of wisdom?
“… none of us really know what we’re doing.”
I’d heard Jonathan speak at interview before –
at the Vogue Fashion Festival 2013.
I liked him then and like him now …
For a/w 2013
ladylike, colour impact
(images from vogue.com):