‘The Scotsman in New York questionnaire: Jonathan Saunders’

By Loïc Prigent
Photograph by Christian MacDonald

The questionnaire. Jonathan Saunders. - © System Magazine

What’s the Scottish stereotype most often repeated back to you?

We’re alcoholics who don’t spend money… not all wrong.

Where do you live?

South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in a converted shoe-polish factory.

Is the rent more extortionate in London or New York?

Much more expensive in New York. The spaces in Brooklyn are incredible though, and the light is much better. We have an incredible view of the skyline.

What polite thing New Yorkers do have you stolen from their etiquette?

They always keep everyone informed. There is a lot of email correspondence, that’s for sure. And people seem to love to share. I know everything about our neighbours already and we have only been in this apartment for a few months. That wouldn’t happen in London.

What’s polite thing you usually do would you teach New Yorkers?

No one puts a kiss at the end of a message. I think it’s sweet. x

What did Diane von Furstenberg first teach you about New York fashion?

The customer comes first.

What are the three differences between the fashion industry in London and New York?

  1. There is a personal closeness that I find with London designers that I haven’t seen (yet) in New York. 2. Marketing plays a much bigger role in New York than in London, probably due to the scale of the businesses. At least, its far more strategic here. 3. The creative process feels similar. I research in the same way, sketch, drape. But the time is more limited. It feels faster (although this could be more to do with my role here). There is no shortage of sources of inspiration though, which is great.

How do you hail taxis?

Not very well. I must have one of those faces. It’s always a struggle to get one.

Are you a ‘taxi talker’ or an ‘eyes-down-and-on-Instagram’ kind of guy?

I send emails until I get car sick. Sometimes it’s just nice to stare out the window; sometimes I forget I live in New York and can look up and be surprised all over again.

Downtown or upstate?

The Hudson Valley is nice. Peaceful.

What’s your favourite piece of art at MoMA?

My dear and late friend, fashion designer Richard Nicoll has one of his dresses in the current exhibition, Items: Is Fashion Modern? It has to be that.

What’s your favourite piece of art in the Met?

Has to be Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) by Jackson Pollock. So familiar, but so exciting every time I see it. I can imagine him painting on the floor with all that energy and movement.

What’s your favourite piece of art at the Frick?

Portrait of a Bearded Man by Léonard Limousin (or Limosin). The colours and composition feel so modern. And he has a good nose.

And finally, three questions that I decided to steal from the ever-vague, quintessential New Yorker, Carrie Bradshaw:

  1. In a city of great expectations, is it time to settle for what you can get?

Never. Being satisfied would be the death of me.

  1. Are New Yorkers really giving up on love and filling up on power?

I’m lucky. I found it and brought it with me. It depends on what stage you’re at in your life. I think it’s hard for many.

  1. Do we need drama to make a (fashion?!) relationship work?

Relationship: no. Fashion: definitely, yes!

Taken from System No. 10.