Talking with Michelle Smith, designer of print-centric line Milly, you get the sense that she embodies the lifestyle her clothes seem to promise: a relaxed, polished, happy life full of sunny days and breezy nights. Smith was in Toronto this week to launch her new 60-piece capsule collection with Banana Republic. The day may have been rainy and wet, but inside the Bloor Street store the crowd was feeling dry and beachy as lobster rolls and fizzy lemonade were served and models in coral, pink, green and turquoise roamed the space. Pieces from the Banana Republic Milly Collection have already been spotted on Zoe Saldana and Olivia Palermo.
The collection, inspired by summer in the Hamptons, came to be through the long term friendship between Smith and Simon Kneen, Banana Republic Creative Director and Executive Vice President. “It was a case of right place, right time,” says Smith. “We always toyed around with the idea and it just finally came to fruition. Doing a summer collection is so great because I love working with colour and I design my own prints.” The prints range from a repeated medallion and chevron stripes to banana leaves and elephants as a nod to Banana Republic’s history. Although the prints vary in size, colour and style, the colour palette allows for easy mix and matching. “Creating a collection is like creating a beautiful collage. Having a cohesive colour palette is like having a do-it-yourself kit, which makes it easy to pull a look together. It’s easy summer dressing, but also smart and pulled together.”
The collection, which also includes bags, jewellery and menswear (a first for Smith) is in stores and online at bananarepublic.ca now. Here’s a small taste of the highlights.