Banana Republic’s Simon Kneen Talks Issa Collaboration and Kate Middleton

issa london banana republic

We suspect the throngs of Soho tourists might have been fooled into thinking Queen Elizabeth was in town, what with all the Queen’s Guards and Union Jack mini coups parked on Broadway yesterday evening. However, the commotion was not for her majesty but rather for the launch of the Banana Republic x Issa London collaboration, where we were invited to pre-shop the collection while sipping on champagne (this was just as dangerous as it sounds).

Amidst the chaos of shoppers clamoring for the infamous navy blue wrap dress based off the Issa original that Kate Middleton sported to announce her royal betrothal, we caught up with BR Creative Director and EVP, Simon Kneen. The charming Brit filled us in on his fondness for Will & Kate, the collaboration process, human camouflage, and working with L’Wren Scott.

As a Brit, how does it feel to be collaborating with Issa London?
Simon Kneen: I live and work all around the world, so I don’t really see myself as British. But it’s been very exciting to work with a British brand and see how it comes together with iconic American style.

Kate Middleton is an icon, and in many ways a face for this collaboration, what do you love most about her style?
SK: I mean she’s such a great role model, but the thing I love about Kate, and William to be honest, is the fact that they’re the modern royalty. They’ve taken the cobwebs out of the royal traditionalism. They’re kind of do-it-yourself royals, which I really love. That accessibility shows up in what they do, but also what they’re wearing as well. Kate looks amazing when she’s wearing couture, as well as when she’s wearing a pair of jeans and flats. It’s also amazing how fabulous she looks wearing a dress. I think she had a big influence on the resurgence of the dress.

We can personally attest to that! We also see a lot of bold animal prints in this collection. Was that Issa’s doing?
SK: Yes, very African Serengeti. Working with Issa, we went back into the archives, and that was the first thing that sprang to mind about our heritage that they were inspired by. They wanted to do it in a modern way and have it be their take on color and print. We have a lot of neutrals, which of course is very Banana Republic, and then we have a lot of color which is very Issa.

Do you think animal prints have become more acceptable in the office?
SK: Absolutely. I call them human camouflage. I find the prints very forgiving. If animals can disappear in the jungle, they can do amazing things for your body. With this iconic wrap dress, that cinches in the right place, curves with your body, and accentuates the right things of a women’s figure. It’s a perfect combination, and that’s why they’re flying off the shelves.

Your next upcoming collaboration is with L’Wren Scott, tell us about that proccess.
SK: I’m very excited about what we’re doing with L’Wren and it was a bit of a challenge because she’s so high-end and couture. But she was really up for us interpreting her style into our approachable, and accessible price points. A big challenge but very excited about the result.

As are we, Simon. As are we… View the entire collection, below, and snap up the designs in store beginning tomorrow!

Related Links:
Issa London To Bring Kate Middleton’s Engagement Dress To Banana Republic
Is Kate Middleton To Thank For This Banana Republic Collaboration?
Kate Middleton Nearly Shut Down Issa London
L’wren Scott Dishes On Styling Her Beau, Mick Jagger

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