Plus, our favourite looks from her brand-new Banana Republic collection.
“It was really a matter of finding the right time in my role as a brand ambassador to do a collection,” Olivia Palermo told Editors Inc. before her recent Fall 2017 collection presentation at Banana Republic’s Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City.
As the retailer’s Global Style Ambassador since 2016, Palermo has curated selections of her favourite pieces, both for Banana Republic’s website and a series of pop-up shop-in-shops. Now, the style star has debuted her first capsule collection for the brand, featuring 70 stunning pieces of clothing and accessories with military, bohemian and sport-inspired touches in fall-perfect shades including navy, saffron and khaki.
Surrounded by her collection, along with hand-picked décor items, fashion books and must-have accessories from the likes of Smythson and Eugenia Kim, Palermo sat down with Editors Inc. to chat about her design approach and the keys to her killer, oft-copied style.
Editors Inc: What makes Banana Republic such a great match for you?
Olivia Palermo: Banana is one of the most iconic brands, so it really felt like the perfect fit. As you can see throughout this collection, a lot of it is highlighted on statement pieces — or, as I like to call them, ‘lifer pieces’ — which you can build into your wardrobe. Take jackets, which I think are super-important; you can just throw one on with so many different things and style them in so many different ways. That’s why we have so many jackets in the collection. It’s about taking that fall colour palette and all the different textures and playing them off one another.
EI: What and who were you thinking about when you were designing the collection?
OP: It was really about whatever was inspiring me in the moment. I’m all about a really great military jacket and adding colour, so I thought bringing in that long, red military coat was a nice, fun take, and something different — it wasn’t green, it wasn’t navy. And of course, with the fabrics, we have pieces that are sexy and sheer, but you can layer them with other things as well. You have pieces with the bohemian touch, too, and a heavy military influence, but also cozy and a bit of an athleisure feel, because, really, that’s what all of our lifestyles have come to in a way.
EI: This might be like asking you to pick a favourite child, but do you have any favourite pieces from the collection?
OP: Some of the chunky sweaters are really great — I love the hint of detail in the lace. And the two velvet dresses are fantastic. I think they actually have a little less hanger appeal, but when you have them on they really come to life.
EI: You’re a pro at mixing high and low, even though you could wear head-to-toe designer if you wanted. Why is a high-low approach to dressing so important to you?
OP: It’s really about whether something is great. “If it’s good, it’s good” — that’s what I always say. Nowadays, it’s all about incorporating different things. It’s not about the price tag. It’s about finding your own sense of style, adding your own touch to things and your own interpretation.
EI: What’s the trick to adding your own twist?
OP: Have your own take on things. Take one piece and play around in your closet with other pieces. Find what you like and rework that piece. There’s tons of different ways you can style something, and you can always go online to get inspiration.
EI: Speaking of which, so many women look to you for style inspiration. Who do you look to for inspiration?
OP: I look back at them for inspiration! Throughout my travels, I see stylish women all around the world. Also, interiors inspire me, flowers inspire me, art inspires me.
EI: What about a particular piece of clothing speaks to you?
OP: I think it depends on the garment. It can be the colour, the fabric, the attention to detail or the fit. The fit is always super-key, and everyone’s body type is different, so it’s really important to find a good local tailor. Even a quarter of an inch can change your whole look.
EI: When it comes to shopping, do you have any deal-breakers?
OP: Just that it’s well-made and doesn’t fall apart. That’s really frustrating, and I think we’ve all been there! [Even with fast fashion], the pieces are made in different places around the world, so it really depends on what the piece is and how it’s constructed.
EI: Are there any particular staples every woman should have in her closet?
OP: A great tuxedo jacket. A statement coat, of course. A well-tailored suit with a cropped pant that’s versatile and that you can wear during the day and at night. A pair of smoking flats, a chic pair of sneakers and a great strappy heel. Because you know, we women are always on the go, and it’s not practical that we’re always in heels, so we need to have the best of both worlds, don’t we?
EI: What would you say is the key to incorporating new trends?
OP: For myself, if the trend is blue for the season, and I’m not really into blue, I might throw in an earring or incorporate it into beauty. I always say, beauty is a great way to play with colour.
The Banana Republic x Olivia Palermo Collection ($85–$1,240) is available in stores and online now.