Jonathan Saunders Resigns Role at Diane von Furstenberg

LONDON — In what is the latest example of a trend that has been sweeping the fashion industry, Jonathan Saunders, the Scottish designer tasked with reimagining the Diane von Furstenberg label for a new generation, has abruptly left his role as chief creative officer after 18 months.

Hirings and firings at major brands reached new heights in 2017, with at least one change per month in the creative or commercial leadership of a major house.

Mr. Saunders, who moved to New York and joined DVF in May 2016 after closing his London-based brand in December 2015, had won both commercial ground and critical acclaim for his hand in the reinvention of the New York fashion house, known for its original wrap dress, message of female empowerment, and bold use of color and print. His resignation, announced Friday, is effective immediately, a statement said. Mr. Saunders’s pre-fall 2018 collection, presented this month, will be his last collection for the brand.

“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,” Mr. Saunders said in the statement. “I thank the incredible team for their dedication and support, and will continue to be a friend and admirer of the brand.”

Ms. von Furstenberg added that she was “thankful” to Mr. Saunders for the “beautiful work and the effort and dedication he has put into DVF.”

Mr. Saunders’s sudden exit after just three ready-to-wear seasons is the latest executive shake-up at DVF, exemplifying the difficulty many of fashion’s founding fathers and mothers have had in orchestrating a transition of power while trying to build relevance with a younger audience.

Diane von Furstenberg in New York this month. She initially said of Mr. Saunders: “I have been looking for someone to be my heir for years, and now I have found him.”CreditPaul Morigi/Getty Images

Paolo Riva, the first titled chief executive of the brand, left in November 2016, also after 18 months at the helm. He has yet to be replaced.

Mr. Saunders was preceded by two other designers, Michael Herz and Yvan Mispelaere; each was introduced by Ms. Von Furstenberg with great fanfare and enthusiasm, and each lasted roughly two years in the job. Mr. Saunders, however, was the first to be given the title of chief creative officer, with formal responsibility for all aspects of design at the company — including fashion, art direction and advertising — an…

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