Exclusive: Banana Republic Milly Collection Unveiled

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Picture yourself on the beach in the Hamptons, wearing a colorful designer Milly maxi dress. What used to be something we 'oodled' over on Pinterest can now be your fashion reality. Why? The exciting and beautiful collaboration between Banana Republic and Milly fashion designer, Michelle Smith, which drops in stores and online May 30th!

The Banana Republic Milly Collection marries the iconic Banana Republic sense of modern style with Milly's signature vintage-inspired prints and patterns, for a collection that feels equal parts sophisticated and playful. We had the chance to sit down with designer Michelle Smith of Milly and Simon Kneen, Banana Republic Creative Director & EVP, Design to discuss this exciting collaboration.

StyleList: Why did you decide to collaborate?
  • Simon Kneen: "When looking to Summer 2013, we wanted to focus on the vibrant colors and optimistic patterns that highlight the inspiring, fun-loving Summer season. Michelle's keen sense of color, print and pattern are the perfect complement to Banana Republic, and her Hamptons-chic style is a new take on aspirational Summer dressing for our consumers."
  • Michelle Smith: "I've always been a fan of Banana Republic, and Simon and I had an immediate and lasting connection upon meeting. The overall inspiration for the collection was a Hamptons-chic looks that can be worn in the city or at the beach."
StyleList: What was your inspiration for the new Banana Republic Milly Collection?
  • Michelle Smith: "I spend my Summer weekends in beautiful Watermill, which is my favorite Hamptons escape from the city. This collection incorporates bright colors, bold patterns and easy essentials that truly capture the essence of summertime in the Hamptons. The capsule features original designs that incorporate a new print created exclusively for the collection as well as six of my favorite archive Milly prints updated specifically for the collection."
StyleList: What is your favorite piece from the collection?
  • Simon Kneen: "It's always difficult to select a favorite design, but I love the elephant print on the women's shorts and scarf – it's a beautiful reference to Banana Republic's heritage, but feels modern and relevant for 2013. For men, I can see myself pairing the v-neck tee and shorts for a relaxing day at the beach."
  • Michelle Smith: "I love the elephant print shorts with the medallion shirt."
StyleList: You've worked for some serious fashion powerhouses. What concepts have you learned from those high fashion brands and how have you infused those ideas into this Banana Republic collection?
  • Michelle Smith: "I began my career at Hermes, and worked at Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, so I had the good fortune early on to learn invaluable Parisian atelier techniques that I apply to my own designs by merging them with my love for classic American sportswear. I am very detail-oriented -- I love to make my own prints and push the limit when designing, while still keeping them accessible enough for everyone."
StyleList: What trends and styles can we expect to see from Banana Republic this Summer?
  • Simon Kneen: "For women, I love an effortless statement piece, like our colorblock or floral maxi dresses, which can easily translate from day to night based on how you accessorize. Or add a pop of summer fun to a more casual look with our elephant print or neon-colored shorts paired with a neutral tank or tee. I also love throwing on a lightweight scarf for summer."

The collection has already been seen on fashionistas Olivia Palermo and Maria Menounos, and we're predicting plenty of Banana Republic Milly Collection prints this summer. Check out the complete lookbook above! Happy shopping.
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