STYLE

Milly's Michelle Smith brings Hamptons chic, beach style to Banana Republic line

05/30/2013 02:57 EDT | Updated 07/30/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - With her luxury label based in the Big Apple, Michelle Smith didn't have to look far beyond the famed fashion capital for inspiration as she broadened her brand with a new collection.

The designer and founder of Milly said she wanted "a relaxed, effortlessly chic vibe" for her collaborative line with Banana Republic. To that end, channelling the Hamptons — the Long Island summer playground for many Hollywood A-listers — made the process "very easy."

"I wanted the colours to be very vibrant and happy," Smith said in an interview during a visit to Toronto.

"Speaking to the sunshine, you see a lot of yellows; you see beautiful blues inspired by the sea. I really love pops of colour. And there's a base palette of white and navy which keeps it very crisp and very fresh."

Smith partnered with the retailer on a 60-piece line of apparel and accessories for both men and women ranging from $24.50 to $175.

There was a decided edge to Smith's spring line for Milly, with its range of body-contouring stretch dresses, mesh sweatshirts and shimmering python prints embellishing skirts and dresses. But with temperatures on the upttick, a more laidback approach and look was top of mind for Smith in creating the limited-edition summer line with Banana Republic.

Beyond bold colour-blocking and striking stripes, summertime staples such as flowing maxi dresses, fitted shorts, roll-sleeve tops and flirty, flared dresses are distinguished by their distinctive prints which fuse tradition with a taste of the whimsical. From feathers and banana leaves to medallion prints and miniature elephants, the line showcases a mix of patterns exclusively created for the capsule collection as well as newly updated ones from the Milly catalogue.

Smith said the colours and patterns are slightly more toned down and scaled back in her menswear offerings yet still vibrant, with floral printed shirts and shorts awash in blue and green and lime-coloured tees conjuring a beachfront vibe.

The new collection marks Milly's first foray into menswear. Smith said designing for guys under her signature brand is a possibility in future, and noted that the increased visibility and presence of apparel points to "menswear having a moment."

"Men are being a little more daring in the way they're dressing. They're stepping out of their box, out of their comfort zone and having fun with this, which I love."

For those seeking to add a key piece to their warm-weather wardrobe, Smith suggested opting for a statement dress. Whether you're keen on wearing prints or prefer to keep it plain, she recommended teaming your go-to dress of choice with a jacket for day and then setting it aside for the evening cocktail. The addition of a small clutch can help round out the ensemble, she noted.

No statement dress? No worries. Let your accessories do the talking, such as a large-scale bib necklace or perhaps a little colourful arm candy.

"I love stacking bangles. I think it's a really great way to complete a look," said Smith.

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