Who is Bianca Saunders?

An Introduction to One of Menswear’s Freshest New Voices

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Bianca Saunders, one of fashion’s most exciting emerging designers, just recently debuted her first catwalk show at Paris Fashion Week last month. The Fall/Winter 2022 show, titled “A STRETCH” showcased Saunders’ expert ability to create timeless clothing that calls normative ideas of masculinity into question. A perfect exercise in simplicity and detail, the show felt self assured and stood out amongst a throng of loud, attention grabbing collections. While Saunders has been enjoying a steady rise in popularity for the past few years, her first catwalk show is undoubtedly a huge milestone and a resounding success. But who exactly is the woman behind it all?

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Bianca Saunders was born in Catford, a district of south east London, England in 1993 to a large Caribbean family. Growing up, she spent the majority of her time with her extended family in Lewisham, visiting cousins in Jamaica for holidays and major events. Raised by entrepreneurial parents, Saunders was fortunate to be encouraged by them to pursue her dreams in the arts. Initially, she wanted to become an artist, but after consulting with an uncle in the design industry, he urged her to apply her natural abilities. Saunders looked inwardly into her history, remembering the sewing machine her grandmother used to make outfits for Bianca and gifts for others. Saunders later went on to use the sewing machine during the founding of her eponymous brand. 

Saunders first attended Ravensbourne University London, graduating with a BFA in Art and Design in 2012, then going on to graduate from Kingston university with a BA in Fashion and Apparel Design in 2015. After studying at Kingston, a professor recommended her to the Royal College of Art’s head of fashion, Zowie Broach, where Saunders would eventually graduate with an MA in Menswear. Her graduate collection “Personal Politics”, centered around black masculinity and embracing vulnerability in an effort to let go of traditional stereotypes. Questioning the norms of patriarchal society has since become a common narrative throughout all of Saunders’ work, and is a hallmark of her brand. 

In the time since her graduation, Saunders has been working fiercely on collections, one after another, steadily growing both in name and character. Her namesake brand launched alongside her graduation in 2017 with the intention of exploring the tension between masculine in feminine, and subverting the tropes of each by blurring the lines between them. Everything about the brand revolves around cross referencing whether it be tradition and modernity or her British and Jamaican roots.

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In 2021, Saunders was awarded the prestigious ANDAM award which came with a hefty €300,000 prize, and the even more valuable asset of mentoring from Balenciaga’s president and CEO Cédric Charbit. The prize and mentorship clearly have not gone to waste, as the designer’s most recent collections have been some of her best work. Saunders has also received celebrity recognition from the likes of Kanye West, who tweeted images of her FW 2021 collection, and WizKid, who wore custom Bianca Saunders garments in the music video for his hit song “Essence”. 

Inspired by the method of teaching at RCA and people like Marc Jacobs, for example, Saunders wishes to explore avenues such as furniture in the future. Her aim is to become a household name not known for just one thing, but for a wide variety of disciplines, each approached with her signature reluctance to accept the status quo. 

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