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jonathan saunders' fabulous fashion family

Time flies when you’re having fun. Marking ten years of Jonathan Saunders, the designer invites his fashion family to pose for a celebratory album.

Being married to your job is generally considered social failure, unless you’re a monarch, a president or, indeed, a fashion designer. For ten years now, Jonathan Saunders has tirelessly been building one of London’s most successful high fashion labels, gradually adding to a posse of industry colleagues, who haven’t just become his friends but his fashion family. It has turned into one of the most solid marriages in London (albeit a rather plural, somewhat sexually bi-curious one) and the heart of the Jonathan Saunders brand. “The camaraderie and the communication between the members of the industry, who have become my friends, make your business what it is. Because of the support network that exists here, it’s a hell of a lot easier to start a brand than it is in other capital cities,” Jonathan says. Marking his anniversary, the Glaswegian designer styled his BFFs and favourite colleagues and told us how each of them made a difference in his life over the past decade.

Katie Grand, Editor-in-Chief, LOVE
“I met Katie very late on. She was just one of these formidable figures in fashion that I thought was really scary, and probably really difficult and probably hated me. I remember her coming to the studio – this was when I was in that rat-infested shithole in Bethnal Green – and she was really warm and really friendly. We started working on some garments, and she got down on her knees and started physically doing working on a trouser, which was completely opposite from what I had perceived… you know, that she’d be sitting on her high stool pointing at an intern to do something for her. I already had experiences with some other stylists, who had been that aloof, grand kind of I’m-above-that mentality. She wasn’t. She has an amazing knowledge about fashion. She’s very closely related to designers and gets very closely involved in projects. In a show environment and putting a show together, she’s been an amazing support to me.” 

Lulu Kennedy MBE, Director, Fashion East
“She’s just the best. I just love her. To me Lulu epitomises the energy that has made London what it is. She loves expression through fashion, so she’s always supported designers in saying what they wanted to say on a real creative level.”

Roksanda Ilincic, designer
“She’s an angel of light. She just floats into a room. I’ve got a lot of respect for female designers in London, because it’s not very big and people are continuously supportive of male designers. From an international perspective there are female designers, who have had amazing careers and identities – Donna Karan, Chanel, Schiaparelli – but they always have to become these larger-than-life characters. It seems like they have to fight that a little bit more to be able to do it. I think Roksanda’s worked incredibly hard. She’s got an amazing brand identity, and it seems increasingly so every season.”

Tim Blanks, Editor-at-Large, Style.com
“From the beginning, Tim really got me. When I started out, what I did was only one dimension of who I am as a person and as a designer, so a lot of people didn’t know who I was and what the scope the brand had, I suppose, from those initial collections. And he was one of the first people to understand the other side of what I did and how the brand could actually progress into something that was less one-dimensional.”

Justin Padgett, Fashion Director, Starworks London
“Justin works for the agency that I’m represented by, but he doesn’t represent me. I think that would be crossing the line for sure. He’s an amazing guy. It’s difficult to go out with anyone’s who’s a fashion designer. I think the most important thing is that we were friends before we got together. We don’t talk about work together. He makes me laugh so much. We’re the best of friends as well as being boyfriends, so that’s what anybody would want, really.”

Yvie Hutton, Managing Director, Jonathan Saunders
“She’s my best friend and my managing director. We can’t remember if we met when I had just turned fifteen or sixteen, and we were supposed to do flyers for a night club together, but we got so busy chatting to each other that we never got around to doing what we were being paid to do… so we got sacked from the job. But it was the beginning of an amazing friendship. She’s a very straight person. It’s a very unusual thing to be able to work with someone and be a close friend to them at the same time. My life wouldn’t be what it is without her, so we’re kind of married in a way.”

Resha Sharma and Ilya Fleet, designers, Fleet Ilya
“I love what they do. I love their attitude towards making things, because it’s not the normal formula of doing a fashion brand and all those things, which I think is very exciting. Whenever people try do something in their own way – you know, like Alaia does, kind of fuck-the-system – it’s exciting. That’s what I get from them. Not only is the work incredibly beautiful and impeccably made from a craftsmanship point of view, but it’s just exciting. They’re a gorgeous couple.”

Charlie Harrington, Fashion Director, Stella
“She is the most entertaining and fascinating person I’ve met in the last few years. There’s only a few people in the world that I can actually sit down with from 6pm until 6am and not even notice and not pause a breath. I love her. She’s wonderful. I think, anybody who wants to learn something about something or other, speak to Charlie Harrington.”

Laura Carmichael, actress
“I met her with Chris Kane, I think. They’re quite good friends. Laura is a part of this firstly because she has own style and wears my things, secondly because she picks them herself, and thirdly because she’s my kind of girl. Very down to earth, loves fashion, but wouldn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She’s how all actresses and celebrities should be in my mind.”

Princess Julia, Culture Correspondent, i-D
“The stories she’s told me about what happened throughout her years in London really inspire me. Her love for fashion, her open-mindedness… she’s an amazing character.” 

Nicki Bidder, Managing Director, Starworks London
“Nicki is my PR. She is one of the very few PRs I actually like. What’s interesting about her is her background, and because of that she understands what it’s like to be a designer. She understands the industry and the creative side of the industry. She’s chatty, she’s friendly, but she’s a very astute businesswoman, and I always like and respect that in a woman.”

Amber
“Amber has been around since the beginning. She’s twelve now. She’s definitely got her own profile, this one. If you google her, a lot of pictures come up. She’s such a wise old soul. Such a good dog. She’s very sensitive. She’ll lose loads of weight when I’m doing a show when she feels the stress levels increase. She gets it.”

jonathan-saunders.com