Spring found many designers rejecting "heritage" (the buzzword of early 2010) for a more freewheeling approach. But not Simon Kneen at Banana Republic, who's sticking with the winsome, utilitarian look he's established at the retail chain these last few years. Yesterday's runway show took us on a cross-continental safari. Backstage, he described the inspirational journey as "starting out in the dry deserts of Africa and ending up in a tropical rain forest, picking up exotic pieces along the way and mixing them with what you already have."
That meant tossing a drab anorak over a punchy, floribunda-patterned maxi dress à la Dries Van Noten, or pairing a denim Mao jacket with sweatpants. Kneen kept the pants' silhouette relaxed, showing silk cargos and comfortable slub leggings. And eclectic accessories like burnished pendants and colorful market scarves added a bit of flair to updated standbys like a stone leather trench. The collection hit on some of Spring's biggest trends—below-the-knee hems; head-to-toe, airy white looks—while offering wardrobe foundations that are refreshingly accessible.
On the men's side, the story was the same. Lots of chinos and safari jackets in that same military drab palette, and in place of oversize florals, bold madras plaids.