Banana Republic Unveils Timely Collaboration with Kate Middleton Fave, Issa

Banana Republic has not been playing coy about the major pop culture association of its latest collaborator, Issa London.
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Banana Republic has not been playing coy about the major pop culture association of its latest collaborator, Issa London.
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Banana Republic has not been playing coy about the major pop culture association of its latest collaborator, Issa London.

Banana's capsule collection with the British contemporary brand drops tomorrow, and it's already practically been touted as a Kate Middleton greatest hits collection. We've even received a press release comparing dresses from the collection to not one but six Issa looks Middleton has worn over the years, including the famous royal blue engagement photo frock that called major attention to the brand back in 2010.

We perused the collection up close yesterday at a Brit-themed fete for the launch ("It’s timely we toast to the Royals," exclaimed an invite sent out a week after the royal birth), and, indeed, we could see Middleton in any piece from the collection, which is made up primarily of figure-flattering wrap dresses in bold, but safe, colors. The launch of the collection was well-timed indeed, but don't think it was planned.

"Who's Kate Middleton?" joked Banana Republic creative director and EVP Simon Kneen when we asked him about the Duchess connection at last night's event. "I wish we had [planned it]. Obviously, it was all just destiny. We started talking about [the collaboration] before we even knew Kate was pregnant, let alone when she was having the baby, so it all worked out."

The timing had more to do with the season--Kneen felt the summer to fall transition taking place now (sadly) would be the "perfect" moment for a collection of dresses.

And even though Middleton hasn't worn the iconic blue dress since 2010, it's pretty much engraved in our memories at this point--at least that's what Kneen is banking on. "The iconic blue dress, at the time, wasn’t even available to the public. To be able to offer that for the first time ever...it's bound to be a hot seller." Especially at a fraction of the price--Issa's version cost $575 while Banana Republic's version is only $130.

Kate Middleton has yet to wear the collection, but another celebrity has: Naomi Watts, who coincidentally (we think) has a bit of a connection to the Royal family through Hollywood, as she's playing Princess Diana in an upcoming biopic. Kneen told us the red printed dress she wore out walking her dog last week is his favorite.

This is Banana Republic's second high-profile collaboration after Mad Men, and it already have a third in the works with L'Wren Scott, which Kneen promises will yield lots of "fabulousness." But will shoppers ever tire of all these collaborations? "No, I think we’ve really just started to scratch the surface. I believe they’re really a modern way for some of the less accessible designers to become more available. As long as it’s not just taking what they do and doing it in a less expensive way. Rather, it has to be a thought-out true collaboration to make it something special and unique, and I feel like customers really respond to that."

That remains to be seen, but will customers respond to items more or less worn by Kate Middleton? That's already been proven. Click through for the full look book.