News & Runway

Banana Republic Launches Signature Summer Dress Collection

Banana Repbulic creative director Simon Kneen

"The collection was designed with the greatest of intentions: to fulfill every woman’s fantasy of opening a closet and discovering one dreamy dress after another – each a vision destined to dress life’s every occasion,” exclaimed Banana Republic creative director Simon Kneen (above). While I’m not sure that every one of the 70 styles in the retailer’s new dress line-up is so versatile that it could translate to life’s every occasion, there are certainly a number of on-trend, multi-functional styles.

I previewed the full collection on a recent afternoon in the brand's Soho store and was surprised to see so many floor-length options. Banana Republic isn’t usually a brand I associate with eveningwear, but they have a number of maxi options this season that, as Kneen noted, can be worn from day-to-night. On trend in painterly florals, most of the billowy dresses, Kneen remarked, could easily be belted, worn with a floppy hat, a cropped jacket (he suggests denim), and flats by day, or worn with heels and jewelry to give them a dressier feel by night. When opting for a longer silhouette, Kneen suggests keeping jewelry to a minimum. He recommends either opting for one statement piece or a few stacked, delicate pieces.

Kneen's favorite dress; the dress that sold out the day it hit the Soho store (far right)

As for this season's inspiration, Kneen told me that "the collection was very much rainforest inspired," which made for an abundance of soft watercolor florals, ethnic prints, and neon pops of color. When asked for his favorite style of the season, however, Kneen pointed to one of the more understated white day dresses in the collection – an editor favorite at the event as well – saying that he loved it for its seasonless, versatile appeal. As for shoppers, I was told by one of the sales assistants that though the dresses just hit stores, the long bustier gown sold out the day it made its way into the Soho shop.

The new dresses are now hitting all Banana Republic stores as well as online. The pieces range in price from $69.50 to $298 with the majority priced under $100.