Simon Kneen On Banana Republic's Collegiate Moment

by The Daily Front Row

Banana Republic’s going back to school with their new Pre-Fall 2013 collection. Creative director Simon Kneen took inspiration from collegiate art clubs this season. “Overall, an arts club is as a creative space; it’s definitely not just one thing, but a multitude of things coming together, which is very modern,” said Kneen. “There’s also a very bold graphic message here, which can be very cubistic.” Consider us intrigued. 

The women’s pieces consisted of white flare skirts, navy quilted bomber jackets, B&W check shorts (there’s the graphic cubist theme), paired with a winter white raised-dot sweater, to colorful frocks, like a cherry red fitted dress that flared at the skirt, say, or a peacock blue drop waist dress. “I love the bold color, the beautiful cobalt blues and of course the reds,” said Kneen. Stunning floral statement necklaces, large in scale, topped off some of the looks for added flare.

On the menswear front, looks were of both collegiate and military-inspired variations. See: an olive camo puffer vest paired with an olive and black crew sweater, vintage straight pants, and oxfords, or a black military jacket and camo pants paired with a mustard sweater, olive wool tie and monk strap shoe. When asked which pieces he loved best, Kneen laughed and said, “That’s such a mean question! It’s like having to pick your children.” Touché. But for the guys, he was quite keen on the camouflage. “I’m really happy with how it came out in a modern way. It has a military influence but it doesn’t feel ‘full-on combat’,” said Kneen.

Where did the arts club theme come from? Kneen, like most creatives, is a lover of the arts. His biggest painting is by artist Sarah Butterfield. “She actually was commissioned by Prince Charles to tour with him and paint, which is very interesting,” said Kneen. “Her sense of color is very abstract. I’ve always loved the free brushstroke that she has with colors. It’s a big painting…I don’t know what I was thinking at the time!”

Asked whether he had planned a vacation for anytime soon, Kneen said, “I wish I did, but I don’t.” Toiling on spring and summer concurrently sounds challenging, non? “It really is four seasons at a time! We have great collaborations coming down the pipeline.” Kneen remained mum on the collabs (Issa London, anyone?) but added, “I am very lucky because I get to work with such amazing people in the industry and it’s always so exciting for me.” Cheers to that, darlings!

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