“We all went out last night,” Jonathan Saunders explains about halfway through our chat, laughingly holding his head, when he can’t immediately remember the last movie he saw. “I know! The Jackson Pollock film with Ed Harris. I became obsessed with the woman he has an affair with.”
With his ultra direct gaze and his lyrical Glaswegian accent, Saunders is pretty obsession-worthy too. Then there are the clothes—dresses dappled with prints and graphic cut-outs, which Style.com’s Sarah Mower compared to “the long-lamented energy of Helmut Lang’s urban chic.”
Saunders came to fashion indirectly, working first in textile design and furniture (“Some people are born sketching. I wasn’t”), before heading to Central Saint Martins in London. After graduating with an MA in Printed Textiles in 2002, Saunders launched his own label. Success came swiftly—his first collection appeared on the cover of British Vogue.
We caught up with the designer at The Room at the Bay to talk about his muse, favourite model and his obsession with Matisse.
What’s your favourite non-fashion print?
“I love Hermès scarves—they have such a beautiful sense of colour.”
Do you have any muses or style icons?
“I’m not really a muse kind of guy. I want so many different women to wear my clothes. I get more excited about real women than mythical historical figures.”
Who’s your favourite model?
“Lara Stone. She epitomizes modern fashion imagery.”
Other designers that you admire?
“So many for many different reasons. Chanel for the daywear—it’s not about flights of fantasy, that’s a real jacket, a real skirt. Balenciaga, especially new Balenciaga, for the textile development. And I think Prada’s vision is the most relevant to fashion today. It’s a fascinating cross-fertilization of fine art and architecture.”
What are you reading right now?
“I always like Interview from the ‘70s, and I’m reading a book now on Andy Warhol’s phrases—it’s like these soundbites on life. He’s actually a much kinder, more open and down-to-earth character than you’d think.”
Do you collect anything?
“I collect books, fine art books. I love the work of Allen Jones, his amazing sculptures. Also Man Ray. And Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton—they had such interesting takes on sexuality.”
What about Matisse, and his prints?
“His work was very free, and I generally prefer prints that are more organized. Amazing sense of colour, though. And later in his life, when he went blind, he created those collages out of ripped paper. So beautiful.”
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