jonathan saunders revisits the eclectic side of the 70s for diane von furstenberg

For his spring/summer 18 show, the designer goes beyond the wrap dress.

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13 September 2017, 6:10am

Although her iconic wrap dress and canny business sense made Diane von Furstenberg's brand synonymous with ease, her original milieu was eccentric to the point of parody. At Studio 54, von Furstenberg's cohorts Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger treated going out as an art form, one with specific costumes. New York in the 70s was all about glitzy individuality, from stacks of bangles to colorful printed turbans à la Loulou de la Falaise. Scottish transplant Jonathan Saunders, who designs DVF's brand, wanted to bring the spring/summer 18 collection back to its disco-era roots, he said during its presentation. "It was important for me to think about the decade in which this brand was formed," he said.

The former Serene Highness Diane Von Furstenberg launched her business in New York in 1973, and throughout the 70s outfitted a new wave of empowered, creative women. "That moment in New York had such electricity; it was such a melting pot of ideas," said Saunders. He used that energy to diversify the spring collection, with looks that ranged from jewel-colored pajama pantsuits to Marisa Berenson-worthy fringed gowns. Large, eclectic costume jewelry including giant hoops and looping chokers added to the gypsy dreamer vibe.

Diane von Furstenberg herself, in a neat brocade suit, had Jonathan's ear during the presentation. He's eager to respect her vision. "It's about trying to define the attitude of a brand that was created by a woman who was provocative, who was sensual," he said. But a brazen use of synthetic fabrics kept it from feeling too historic. "It's nice to work with nostalgic things and reinterpret them in a modern way."

As a relative newcomer to the city, Jonathan is still in the honeymoon stage with his new customer. As he said, "New York women know what they want and I think that's so important when it comes to designing for a brand."


Photography Mitchell Sams