Who is Jonathan Saunders?
News that London-based designer Jonathan Saunders is resigning as creative director of his eponymous company, resulting in it shutting, sent the fashion world into a tailspin on Tuesday (08Dec15). There had been no warning signs that the move was in the offing; in fact quite the opposite was true as the label only secured a new investor at the beginning on 2015 and hired a fresh CEO less than six months ago.
Saunders cited "personal reasons" for his decision, and as yet there is no more information about what has caused him to bow out of the label he created. While sometimes there is simmering tension when a designer quits a label, there appeared to be none of that and his business partner and investor Eiesha Bharti Pasricha was seemingly just as heartbroken as many fashion fans.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting one of the most talented British designers of our times," she said in a statement. "Our decision to part ways was not easy and I wish Jonathan every success for the future."
So who exactly is the man behind the label? Saunders hails from Glasgow in Scotland and his upbringing was a hard one. His household was strictly religious and he wasn't allowed to celebrate Christmas or listen to his favourite bands, such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, with the designer eventually moving out at the age of 16. “It wasn’t because I was gay, but obviously that meant I was the spawn of Satin. Ha! Ha!” he previously claimed to Britain's Elle magazine. “It was more because I wanted friends outside the religion.”
The designer calls this “quite a harrowing time”, and it was his discovery of a love for fashion which helped him. He studied at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and made some great friends - one close pal, Yvie Hutton, became managing director of his label.
Saunders graduated in 2002 and his final collection featured bright kaftans inspired by the Beatles' Yellow Submarine album cover - it was a massive hit and netted him the 2002 Lancome Colour Award, as well as a role creating patterns for Alexander McQueen. This led to consultancy work with labels including Christian Lacroix and Pucci, with the designer debuting at London Fashion Week the following year.
He's best known for creating brightly-coloured pieces, something he's proud of. "I've never been one for a black pencil skirt, or just a basic working wardrobe,” he told British's The Telegraph newspaper in 2011. “I want to introduce something into a woman's wardrobe that is highly identifiable, and that makes them feel good: something special. And the tools that I use to give them that are colour and print."
His take on design certainly paid off, with A-listers including Madonna, Sienna Miller and US First Lady Michelle Obama all rocking pieces from his label at one point. He's also won a string of accolades, including Scottish Fashion Designer of the Year at the Scottish Style Awards in 2005 and the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2012.
Not everything has been such a success though - a brief move to New York Fashion Week didn't work out and he returned to the UK capital in 2010 after two years Stateside. No matter to Saunders though, who has repeatedly insisted the stress is one of the things which drives him.
"I love my job, otherwise I wouldn't stay here until midnight every day the whole of my life," Jonathan told Britain's Grazia magazine previously. "I'm not going to get out the violins. It's not that I have to. It's that I want to. I love the stress of it, trying to do something that maybe doesn't work out at first and then fixing it. That's what we do."