House Of Grazia: Jonathan Saunders On 10 Years In Fashion And 'Kinky' Designs

19 February 2013 by

Jonathan Saunders has been showing his collections at London Fashion Week for just on 10 years and has become a firm favourite with the editors and celebrites from Kate Middleton to Michelle Obama, not to mention his legion of customers - in that time. Grazia have long championed his figure-flattering prints, gorgeous skirts, dresses and covetable knits, as well as his excellent outerwear. There were SO many things we wanted to ask him and what seemed like SO little time to ask them, when he took a seat along with Grazia's Editor in Chief, Jane Bruton on the House of Fashion at Matches sofa. But ask him we did, and this is what he said;

Jonathan Saunders dress £515 from Matches Fashion

Jane Bruton: Take us back to the first time you work on a collection. How do you start out?

Jonathan Saunders: Since we produce four womens collections a year and two mens I usually look at the previous collection and think - what's the opposite? What can I do that is completely different this time? I'm inspired by colour and secondly by textiles. So if I've done high shine metallics one season I'll gravitate towards to mattes and wools the next. Or sometimes I'll take from mens and feed that into womens.

Jane Bruton: Tell us more about the latest collection - AW13

Jonathan Saunders: It was to do with the fabrics - last season was late Seventies and this season I looked at all the woolly fabrics and things that aren't glamorous in themselves and then worked out how to make it more interesting. That's why I put the PVC with a woolly jumper - it's the combination that I'm interested in.

Then I looked at Pin Ups and porn stars from the Fifties and a neglige that had a pretty floral on. A lot of the items were double faced as well, with a bright colour on one side and a dark colour on the other. There's a dark undercurrent to it, with the PVC, which I think makes it quite kinky, and then with the focus with some of the looks on corset tops and the breasts - and we cast some models who really emphasised that aspect to it!

looks from Jonathan's latest collection - AW13

Jane Bruton: What was the turning point for you - when you thought; 'this is it, I know I'm going to make it now'?

Jonathan Saunders: I started in fashion when I was 24 - at the beginning to you tend to stick every single idea onto one dress - and create a monster along the way - but you can learn from your mistakes. I feel I've learned everything I know now along the way, mainly by getting it wrong and then learning from the experience. At one point I thought; women love my collections but they love it from afar and I want them to wear it. Then I did a collection with a lot of daywear and it was much simpler than anything I'd done before. The next season everyone was wearing it which gave me confidence and motivated me a lot.

Jonathan Saunders ombre spot print dress £610 from Matches Fashion

Jane Bruton: Your shows are such a highlight on the London schedule. How important is it for you to show here?

Jonathan Saunders: A lot about London Fashion Week has changed - it's so exciting right now. When I started it was me and Giles and then later Christopher Kane. In a way we're the first generation of British designers who tried to do normal clothes - you know? Before that, London was known for 'new ideas' but things that never fitted properly and nothing was delivered on time and it was held together with Selloptape. Then something changed and British designers started to be more commercial but it stopped being a bad word. With the recession, designers realised that if soemeone's going to buy a dress it needs to be special.

Jane Bruton: Tell us about your background, growing up in Glasgow. How did you get from there into the world of fashion?

Jonathan Saunders: My background is very unfashionable. My family aren't creative, or if they are they don't know it as their focus is on religion. When I was growing up I sketched a lot and I made furniture which was OK with them because Jesus did it. As you know Jane, I'm a very, very religious person  myself these days. I got fed up of furniture because I missed the human interation - but with fashion you get that. So I changed to textiles which was much better. Then I studied at Central Saint Martins and that was perfect for me. I love clothes - all Scottish people love clothes. We're all fur coat and no knickers - eating beans and saving up for a Katherine Hamnett jacket. Or at least I was like that.

The House of Grazia was packed out for Jonathan's talk

Jane Bruton: Who are your heroes in fashion? 

Jonathan Saunders: Lots and lots of people I admire. Vivienne Westwood is an amazing woman, as well as the way she grew her business. Miuccia Prada for her use of fabric and colour and her fashion empire too; Helmut Lang is not only an amazing designer, but how he built his brand through advertising is so clever.  Lots of people have inspired me.

Jonathan Saunders jumper £350 from Matches Fashion

Jane Bruton, so sadly we're running out of time, but we wanted to ask you a few quick questions. You can only answer love or hate!

Jonathan Saunders: OK, fire away

Onesies - depends who's wearing it! So, if it was Cara, then love, but not anyone else!

Birkenstocks - hate

Leather dungarees - LOVE 

Scrunchies - Please no!

Kitten heel - Love

Boobs out - obviously LOVE!!


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