Jonathan Saunders steps down from Diane von Furstenberg role | Fashion

Jonathan Saunders, the chief creative officer of the American fashion house Diane von Furstenberg, has said he is stepping down with immediate effect.

The announcement on Friday will surprise the fashion industry, given that Saunders relocated to New York from London 19 months ago to take up the role, working closely with the brand’s founder Diane von Furstenberg, and has received positive reviews for his womenswear collections to date.

“I am grateful for Diane’s support and for the opportunity of guiding this iconic brand,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

Diane von Furstenberg, established in the 1970s, is famous for its wrap dress and celebration of the female form. Saunders, who previously ran his own-name label for more than a decade until December 2015, was the first creative director von Furstenberg had appointed.

At the time, she said: “Jonathan’s extraordinary passion for colours and prints, his effortless designs and his desire to make women feel beautiful make him the perfect creative force to lead DVF into the future.”

Reacting to Saunders’ announcement, she thanked him for his “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”.

The chief creative officer is the latest high-profile fashion figure to announce their departure this year, following the British designer Clare Waight Keller, who left the French fashion house Chloé to replace Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, and Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, who will leave the company next year.