The third time will almost certainly be a charm for Banana Republic, as the retailer rolls out yet another capsule collection of crisp styles inspired by AMC's hit drama Mad Men.
The collection takes a cue from the mod fashion scene of the late 1960s, following the show's characters as they made their way through that turbulent and iconic era of American history last season. (Mad Men will return for a sixth season with a special two-hour premiere on April 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.)
"I think we were already feeling a little bit of that '60s vibe coming through from a trend point of view, between color and pattern, and even the shorter length (of hemlines)," says Simon Kneen, Banana Republic's creative director and executive vice president of design. "It felt easy to translate. For us, it didn't feel unnatural to go that way; it felt very like a very easy, natural fit."
Just as they did with the previous Mad Men-based collections, which launched in 2011 and 2012, Kneen and his design team worked closely with the show's Emmy-winning costume designer, Janie Bryant.
"She always brings such amazing inspiration for us to work from. She'll do her research, she'll bring in some of the pieces from the series, she'll talk about the characters. She'll talk in-depth about why details are so important related to the characters. And all this is amazing inspiration for myself and the design team to work from, so we need Janie. It's not like we can work in a bubble on this," Kneen says.
The collection makes its debut Wednesday in stores and online, and shoppers will be able to choose from more than 50 items of apparel and accessories for men and women that range in price from $29.50 to $375, including include dresses, pants, jackets, fedoras and ties.
Kneen adds that with such a successful, synergy-infused working relationship, fans of the show and the store should not discount a fourth collaboration. "Maybe the series will move onto the '70s, and we'll see what that will bring."
Gingham shell and capris
"The whole geo thing, from a prints and pattern, up until that point, everything was very natural and floral, almost pictoral. And, then the whole influence of space travel, modernism, modern design, cubism, Mondrian, all of those modern paintings and artists were very influential in the late '60s in the design. Later, they got into psychedelia with the drugs and etc., and everything got paisley, but before, there was that moment when geos were extremely important from a fashion point of view."
Green printed dress
"That's a knit jersey, and even the fabric here has a little bit of nylon synthetic in there that was of the time. If you remember, it was really important bringing synthetics into the clothes because of the practicalities of it was a big thing during the late '60s," Kneen explains. "It comes with a little felt belt that Janie was passionate about, because she always felt that there was a little bit of cinch on the waist without it being overexaggerated. It just added a little bit of ease and accentuation."
Red printed dress
"Again, that kind of shift idea, which doesn't seem extraordinary now, but of course, you can imagine at the time, these softer shapes, after women wearing such construction from underwear upwards, suddenly being in a relatively loose shift shape was very dramatic and very daring at the time. Not least, of course, she's showing all that leg. So it really is very iconic of the time, the shirtdress."
Chambray sport coat
"A big shift that Janie alluded to in the series is that they guys were suddenly - it wasn't cool to wear a suit. It was actually cooler to wear your sports jacket and look like you stepped off the golf course," Kneen says. "At the time, it was very informal and very anti-establishment. That (jacket) was taken directly from a swatch, if I remember correctly, that Janie provided us with that we had reproduced . Straight from the set."
Black and white clutch
"Black and white is iconic, but at the time, that optic use of color was revolutionary, because everything (before) was very natural and very colorful. Women wore pink or yellow or pale green, and colors weren't glaring," Kneen says. "So to go from that to an antithesis of this geometric black and white in any form was, again, very, very modern, very anti-establishment."