New DVF designer debuts line with back-to-basics approach

The DVF Spring 2017 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Nicole Evatt)

Jonathan Saunders, the newly appointed presumptive heir to DVF, paid homage to the brand's heritage while showcasing his own vision during an intimate presentation Sunday at New York Fashion Week

NEW YORK — Jonathan Saunders, the newly appointed presumptive heir to DVF, paid homage to the brand's heritage while showcasing his own vision during an intimate presentation Sunday at New York Fashion Week.

The Scottish designer took the reins as DVF's chief creative officer in May, but made it clear he's not necessarily filling Diane von Furstenberg's iconic shoes.

"It's just different shoes, you know? It's not like I'm replacing her in any way. It's just a different chapter for the company," Saunders said while insisting von Furstenberg is still very much the cornerstone of the brand.

Von Furstenberg, a Fashion Week staple, was not on hand for Saunders' debut presentation at a sparse industrial space in the Manhattan's Meatpacking District.

The collection played with bold colors, patterns and mixed textures.

Romantic florals paired with playful polka dots, and metallic dresses were adorned with fur wraps.

"I wanted the collection to be kind of this melting pot," Saunders explained. "Eclectic mixtures of different prints from different places and times brought together in one collection. I thought that was kind of an exciting way to start."

The signature wrap dress appeared throughout with fresh silhouettes and asymmetrical hemlines, including a structured kimono, a silky romper and a color-blocked scarf dress.

Sometimes the wrap was simply implied through cuts and movement on plunging blouses and sequined, layered frocks.

"It's more about taking it not so literally and just trying to transfer into a product that feels considered and modern and developed. A lot of the bias-cut dresses still have that same sense of ease, but they are pushing things forward," said Saunders.

Von Furstenberg is known for splashy fashion shows featuring celebrity-driven social media buzz. Last season's event included It Girls Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Irina Shayk.

But according to CEO Paolo Riva, priorities have shifted.

"I think that the fashion show is trying to cover too many things: speaking to press, inviting celebrities, opinion leaders, bloggers and friends, and now see-now, buy-now. It's too much for one moment and because this is the first collection from Jonathan, this is a moment where we really wanted to have the opportunity to leave the noise out," said Riva.

Saunders' back-to-basics approach included one-on-one meetings with journalists, a simple display of clothes on racks with six models perched in the background.

"I think at the end of the day the customer is interested in clothes and I'm hoping we're entering into a chapter where all of the nonsense doesn't matter as much as having something that you just feel fabulous in," he said.

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Follow Nicole Evatt on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NicoleEvatt

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