The news comes days after von Furstenberg told WWD she plans to sell a stake in her fashion company. The designer and chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) plans to hire Michel Dyens & Co., a leading independent investment banking firm, to explore options.
Saunders joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories, store design, web site design, a new corporate brand identity and marketing including advertising campaigns.
At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director.
The British designer’s last collection for the label was his pre-fall lineup, inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Zabriskie Point.”
“I am grateful for Diane’s support and for the opportunity of guiding this iconic brand. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished in the past 18 months. I thank the incredible team for their dedication and support, and will continue to be a friend and admirer of the brand,” Saunders said in a statement.
“I am so thankful for Jonathan’s beautiful work and the effort and dedication he has put into DVF in the last 18 months. He will leave an important and lasting heritage to the brand,” said von Furstenberg.
In recent years, the DVF brand has been challenged, as legacy contemporary brands have faced difficulties in department stores.
DVF has been without a chief executive officer since November 2016, when Paolo Riva parted ways with the company, and at the time von Furstenberg said her family would be getting more involved.
She said she has hired Dyens “to find an investor with expertise in order to attract the leadership this brand deserves to be disruptive in the digital world and create a real legacy.”
In a related move, von Furstenberg said she has also invited Paula Sutter, president of DVF Studio LLC from 1999 through 2013, to rejoin the company’s board in 2018. Sutter has been ceo of TSG Fashion for three years.