Just three weeks ahead of her S/S 20 presentation, designer Bianca Saunders joined Contributing Editor Mimma Viglezio in live interview. Held at the Istituto Marangoni, attended by students and press alike, the conversation gave unique insight into the Bianca Saunders brand – and the creative mind behind it.
Viglezio, who was first acquainted with Saunders on one of our live panel discussions, opens the conversation by asking what lead Saunders to start her own brand. Saunders puts it simply, 'I felt I had something important to say about my identity'. Surprisingly, during her BA studies at Kingston University Saunders had toyed with the notion of working for Cos in the design team – a step away from her MA show, entitled Integration, which looked closely at West Indian groups settling in London. 'Growing up in Brockley, South East London, I saw a lot of changes', adds Saunders.
The Bianca Saunders man is unique. She describes him as a creative polymath, quietly confident in his identity. Poring over her collections – with the subtle flashes of skin, frilled details and feminine nuances – it is clear she has finely-tuned this contemporary dandy. For Viglezio, this focus is admirable; too often she sees young designers overload ideas into a collection.
Saunders faces all the struggles a young designer can expect: funding, resources, production and so on. During her MA at the Royal College of Art, Head of Fashion Zowie Broach played an instrumental role in getting the ball rolling for Saunders. With ardent support from MACHINE-A’s Stavros Karelis, and fashion critic Charlie Porter, Saunders soon received the attention she deserved. But is this enough? In Viglezio’s words 'Sometimes there is more press than there is customers'. For Saunders, who is currently stocked by Matches Fashion and ssense, it is quality that will give her brand longevity. When asked what she would spend one million dollars on, her answer was not influencer marketing, but filming, events, lookbooks and the talent she collaborates with. For Saunders, the visuals and tangible assets supporting her brand are paramount.
Would she move to Paris if offered? Maybe for a stint as a creative director at a big brand, however she wouldn’t take her own brand out of London; it is intrinsically linked to the city, and by the sounds of it, so is she. Recounting a trip with Matches Fashion to New York, she describes the creative scene there as dispersed. In London, she knows the DJs, graphic designers, photographers and everyone behind the work put out. For her, these authentic relationships are important. Is she keen to collaborate with other brands in the future? Her answer is an affirmative yes – preferably with furniture companies or hotels.
What does the new collection hold? For the most part, we will have to wait and see, but Saunders hints at an elevation in tailoring…