JONATHAN Saunders, the Glasgow School of Art graduate who became one of Britain’s most successful fashion designers, has stunned the industry by announcing the closure of his label.
Saunders, whose designs have been worn by Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Carey Mulligan and Sienna Miller, has cited “person reasons” for the surprise decision to wind up his company early next year.
Saunders is best known for his boldly-coloured designs and groundbreaking work with prints and patterns. Michelle Obama, the Duchess of Cambridge and Samantha Cameron have also been among those spotted wearing his outfits.
Saunders said the label would ceased to exist once orders for the spring and summer 2016 collections he launched in September at London Fashion Week were completed.
The announcement triggered a wave of speculation from fashion industry watchers as it came just five months after Saunders had hired his label’s first chief operating officer, Rupert Maunsell.
In January Saunders, the creative director of his label, announced new investment for the label from businesswoman Eisha Bharti Pasricha.
A statement from the label said the pair had taken the decision jointly to wind up the company, although the split is said to be amicable.
Saunders, one of the biggest names at London Fashion Week over the last decade, said: “It is not a decision that I take lightly and I am eternally grateful to my team for all their hard work and dedication.
“Eiesha has not only been a fantastic partner over the last year, but an incredible support and we remain close.
“I am very thankful for all of the friends that I have across the industry, and I look forward to working with everyone again soon on future creative projects.”
Bharti Pasricha added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting one of the most talented British designers of our times. Our decision to part ways was not easy and I wish Jonathan every success for the future.”
Saunders is reported to have added in an email: “My investor has been such a good partner. I just want to try new things and approach my work in a different way.”
Born in Glasgow in 1977, Saunders studied printed textiles at both Glasgow School of Art and Central Saint Martins in London.
He worked for designers like Alexander McQueen and Christian Lacroix before launching his own label in 2003, when he also made his London Fashion Week debut, aged just 25, before securing orders from Harvey Nichols and Harrods for his designs.
His industry honours include being crowned Fashion Designer of the Year at the Scottish Style Awards a decade ago, receiving the Fashion Enterprise Award at the British Fashion Awards in 2006 and being named British Designer of the Year in 2007.
Saunders also designed the outfit Scottish singer Emeli Sande wore for her starring role in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.
In an interview with The Scotsman in 2013, he said: “I’m more confident as a designer but the more salaries you are responsible for, the more the pressure increases.
“I’m not quite at that stage where I’ve got a commercial collection that I don’t need to worry about, a no-brainer that just sells. The decisions that I make affect everybody’s salaries and that kind of pressure, I feel it.”