We’re bananas for Banana Republic!

15 April 2011

Each season Banana Republic will cherry pick a few select press to attend their new season shows in New York. Well guess what peeps? Grazia was on the list and to say we were mildly excited about some BR action in the Big Apple would be a major understatement.  

So, off we popped to the lovely Bowery Hotel, where a decadent (and some would say very British lounge) awaited 150 eager fashion folk. And as we sipped on champagne, anticipating what the new fall line would look like, live music filled the space courtesy of one of Simon Kneen's ( that's BR’s Creative Director and Executive Vice President of Design) favourite new bands, A Fine Frenzy. It was intimate and sumptuous, so for fall it soon made sense that Banana's signature desk-to-dinner get-ups would take a turn for the seventies.

Uber models Hanne Gaby Odiele and Alana Zimmer chicly slinked their way through the oak panelled drawing rooms in glam but easy-wear flared pants, soft blouses, roll necks and sharp little jackets. But it wasn't a plain ol’ retro look at this decade, because set against the seventies pieces were hints of heritage, too. Cue country gent checks, cosy cable knits and heeled riding boots. I very very very much liked those boots. And the leopard pumps, for that matter.

Not only did the looks hit autumn's ladylike and romantically retro mood on the bulls-eye but the colours felt fresh and exciting, the cuts modern and therefore, the response fantastic. Every fashion editor in attendance was ready to wrap up in the pumpkin orange super-long scarf styled with a neat, cropped camel double breasted jacket - even if it was 25 degrees Celsius outside!

We caught up with Simon before the show (who, did you know, is from UK shores and grew up in Liverpool?), to get the inside scoop on how the gorgeous fall collection came together. We also grilled him on the miracle that is Banana Republic's genius pattern cutting (seriously, I have a pair of classic black crop pants and I never look as skinny as when I'm wearing them!) and of course, the question on everyone's lips - what would Kate Middleton wear from his many BR designs? Catch some backstage action as well as the finale on these videos and a further in depth chat with Mr Banana Republic himself here...

What inspired you this season?
Well it all started when I was thinking of a classically autumnal colour palette. Mixing up camels, rusts and browns with the greens and oranges of the harvest. I have a little place in Conneticut and you can't help by be inspired by the fall in New England, it's incredible. This countryside palette inspired outdoorsy heritage twists too, like flannels, checks, cable knits  and trench coats.  

And so how did you move that idea on into this collection?
I was looking into 1970s icons like Catherine Deneuve, Faye Dunaway and Lauren Hutton at the same time and this idea of modern day heroines struck me. Women now are such heroines – they work, they raise a family, they travel, the see their friends. Women run this world, not men! So I wanted to modernise iconic seventies pieces like a silk blouse or flared pants.

So, tell us honestly, what trouser style do you think is the easiest for ladies to get into? And just how do you make the cuts so flattering?
Those trousers keep me up at night! We’re concentrating on two new shapes for the season – a classic wide leg but also a flare. The leg slimming trick is in the flare starting before the knee, that’s far more flattering.
And as well as these key trousers shapes – what else will a gal not be able to live without next autumn?
A good satchel bag, a smart heel like our simple pumps or heeled loafers and a great hat - whether it’s a fedora, trilby or cloche.  It’s all about those ladylike touches.
And how should we be styling it all up?
Less is definitely more. Don’t get too matchy and always, always, tuck it in!

The world has gone Kate Middleton mad and whilst speculation over the wedding dress has reached fever pitch, we're still just as interested in her day to day wardrobe. We think she’d make a great BR girl, don't you?
I think it's great that she's really supporting British brands but she would be perfect for our signature wrap dresses. We've actually been doing them for years but they're very Kate.
by Hannah Almassi, Junior Fashion News Editor.


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