Achieving that effortless French girl style has always been one of our #lifegoals. It's as elusive as it is très chic. You know what we're talking about: To radiate cool without even trying, to look completely sophisticated with pieces haphazardly thrown together, to somehow attain that put-together, yet just-rolled-out-of-bed vibe at the same time. Well, now we don't have any excuses. Banana Republic has solved the mystery of the French girl with its new fall/winter 2016 collection (which you can buy now—but we'll get to that later).
Michael Anderson, the senior vice president of design for Banana Republic, says it all started with trying to figure out the "French attitude that's so cool and nonchalant." He and his design team set out as explorers, if you will, traveling from Paris to Lyon, all with the goal to soak up the culture.
"We went to beautiful old mills, bought tons of vintage French fabrics, took a ton of photographs," he says. "And what we saw on the streets was this tension between femininity and structure in the way women dress. It was natural and nonchalant, and it felt really beautiful and appealing."
He captured the essence of that tension with breezy silk blouses and dresses grounded by a structured jacket or blazer, military-inspired tops with pretty printed skirts, and breezy wrap jackets with sharp tailored trousers. And since we're talking about Parisian style, you can bet that this collection was lined with Breton stripes—seen layered under slick leather-patched trenches, cute shearling coats, and camel capes.
When asked about Banana Republic and its strength as a supplier of great workwear, Anderson is quick to reply that this collection goes far beyond the office. "It's about being versatile, so that women and men can wear it any way they want to, any time they want to," he says. "In France, women dress more than just one way. It's that versatility that we're searching for."
But dressing like a French girl aside, the next most important thing to take away from the show is that today marks Banana Republic's foray into giving consumers the option to buy pieces immediately after its presentation. Well, only six pieces actually, but it's quite the start. A lovely side-tie coat, a leopard-print dress, a bird-printed blouse, an open cardi, cropped trousers, and a silver foldover clutch make up the selected six. But if you want your hands on next season's pieces, you might want to make that purchase now—only 100 or so were made of each.
"No one wants to wait to buy something," Anderson says about Banana Republic's direct-to-consumer initiative. "There's a momentum surrounding consumers and how to service them in a different way, and it's great that we're one of the firsts to do it."