When considering the most stylish women of all time, Olivia Palermo undoubtedly tops the list – time and time again. Whether it’s walking her dog Mr. Butler or sitting front row at a runway show, she manages to wow with her impeccable taste, attention to detail, and love of “the perfect fit”. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that, as the star announced she’d be designing her first ever apparel capsule collection for NYC-based brand Banana Republic, her fans and followers far and wide waited in anticipation.
After debuting the collection on day two of New York Fashion Week to rave reviews, Palermo hopped on a transatlantic flight to Dubai, selecting the Banana Republic outlet in The Dubai Mall as the only other store that she would visit to promote it. As media waited in the wings, Palermo personally unveiled her edited 36-piece collection to the Middle East. The limited-edition (there are only 12 pieces available of some designs) curation of clothing and accessories boasts beautifully crafted military coats and jackets, chunky knits woven in luxury Italian mills, and romantic midi dresses in paisley prints – all typical of the New Yorker’s own wardrobe.
When looking at the collection, the direction is clearly all Palermo. Taking key pieces from her personal style and adding that signature flair of Banana Republic’s heritage, the collection really does consist of wardrobe staple after wardrobe staple. From the smart navy track pant to the perfectly tailored trench, there’s no denying that every inch of BR x OP has benefited from Palermo’s creative editorial eye and unparalleled talent for styling.
Savoir Flair sat down one-on-one with the fashion icon after the big reveal in The Dubai Mall to discuss her first apparel collection, her love of Middle Eastern women, and what she hates on top of her pizza.
Congratulations on a stunning collection, Olivia. Can you talk us through the narrative behind it?
Banana Republic is a really an iconic American brand, and it’s known for its classics and great basics. We started there, and really wanted to take the time to highlight those. We brought in a trench coat and lots of jackets – and trousers, obviously, are a big deal at the brand. You know, I put my own touch to it, but the one thing that’s most important is the fit. The collection has a military feel, a Bohemian feel, but you also have a slight athleisure feel because everyone is very casual in this day and age unfortunately.
I can see your personal style coming through heavily in the collection. Did you feel it filtering into each piece?
Yes, of course. I’m very focused on jackets. My style is very jacket-heavy and, for any young woman, I feel a great jacket is like armor. You can also rework it 100 different ways, and what I love about these pieces is that you can build.
Do you feel like the city and culture of New York has influenced your collection?
New York is home and, yes, I’m a New Yorker, but I spend the majority of my time traveling all around the world. When I look at everything, I look at it from a global standpoint – not just domestic. Of course, us New York women, we love a great ensemble. That definitely shines through in the collection, but really, it’s designed for everyone.
All 36 pieces are stunning, but if you had to choose just one favorite, which would it be?
I’m currently feeling the black military jacket. I love the red one, too. When designing the jackets, I also kept in mind that they’re not only for women, but also my male friends! I love the trousers, too.
We noticed your sleeve belts online, which are super interesting. Where did this idea come from?
I wanted to take the trench coat, and make it a little bit more exciting. I thought, let’s take the cuffs off the trench coat and do them with some snakeskin and in two different colorways – blue and red – on the buckle. You can put it on sweaters instead of using elastic bands to try and push up your sleeves. I figured this was a much more elegant way of doing it.
It’s such a chic idea! Do you use many other industry styling tricks when dressing yourself?
I use every trick in the book when it comes to styling. I love styling tricks, I use them all of the time.
The collection is full of beautiful prints and rich colorways. How did you decide on the final swatches?
I had a very clear direction as I’m not an indecisive person. When Banana Republic came back with the colorways, I said, “Let’s brighten up the turquoise a bit, let’s punch that out, let’s bring out the orange a bit more.” We edit very well because, then, you can also tell the story in various different ways.
You’ve visited the Middle East once before. What do you think people can learn from style in this region?
Yes, and I love it here. I think Middle Eastern women are incredible. I think that they’re super empowering and super inspiring – and I love the way they put fashion together.
Okay, so now onto your personal style – what is your ultimate go-to piece?
Leather trousers. There is so much you can do with them. They’re masculine, but you can soften them up and make them feminine in different ways. And, for summer, chiffon. I love just a great flowing chiffon dress, especially as it’s easy to pack. The paisley one in this collection really is the perfect one — it’s a great length.
How do you strike the perfect balance between polished tailoring and eclectic style?
I don’t have a certain way it do it, I tend to see how I feel on the day.
You must get asked this all the time, but of everything you’ve ever worn, what is your absolute favorite?
Actually, I never get asked this! It’s very hard because I love all the outfits I wear. But I think one of the most special ones is from when Valentino celebrated his 45th anniversary many years ago. It was an incredible three-day event, and there were some beautiful dresses – not only the one I wore, but all around me. It was just constant beauty. My eyes were literally popping out of my head with all the glamour.
What is the best fashion advice you’ve ever received, and something that you would share with others?
I think it’s important to stay true to yourself; you want to feel like the best version of yourself. And I think incorporating color is really, really, really key. It lightens the mood. Oh, and great accessories! A few accessories go a long way.
How do you always manage to look so sleek, from walking your dog through to public appearances? We’ve literally never seen you in a bad outfit.
I don’t know. I just wake up, and get dressed. Thank you, I will take that lovely compliment!
Who is your ultimate fashion icon?
I don’t have one. I really love stylish girls all around the world. I also think not only my friends, but also the people I work with, really inspire me.
Speaking of friends: when you attend Fashion Week, are you keeping your eye on the style of your peers or is it all about the collections for you?
I’m really focused on the collections. Obviously, if you’re with your girlfriend and she looks fabulous, you’re going to tell her and brighten up her day – and she’ll do the same back. We have to empower each other! But, for me, Fashion Week is really focused on the designers, and I want to take the time for that.
Which trend are you most excited about for Fall/Winter 2017 and what pieces are on your wish list?
I really love corduroy. I think we’ll see a lot more of that. I love heavy gray knits, they’re really pretty. You see more and more women who want a casual look that’s still crisp, so long skirts, chunky sweaters – that sort of thing.
Which designer would you say you wear the most?
Tibi and Dior, definitely. I think Tibi has one of the stronger collections of the entire Spring/Summer 2018 Fashion Week. I haven’t seen the full thing yet because, sadly, Amy [Smilovic] was showing when I was showing! The hints I saw were absolutely gorgeous.
How important was it for you to unveil your collection in New York during Fashion Week?
I think it made complete sense because Banana Republic is an American brand, and it was nice that we showed super early on before everyone got too tired. It’s my hometown, so it has its own importance for that reason, but it’s also important to travel a collection on a global scale.
Let’s wrap up with a Fashion or Faux Pas quick-fire round, starting with blue and green worn together.
Socks and sandals?
Love. MC Hammer – yes!
Cropped tops and low waists?
Belt bags and fanny packs?
Clashing animal prints?
In the appropriate setting.
Sequins for day?
If it has the right balance and it’s not overly done!
[Laughs] I don’t want to look like Britney Spears at the VMAs, sorry.
Dresses over pants?
If done properly and with the right proportions.
And just because: pineapple on pizza?
I like straight-up margarita! I love pineapple, but not on my pizza.
The Banana Republic x Olivia Palermo collection is available to buy now at the brand’s flagship store in The Dubai Mall. The first 50 customers to purchase an item will have the opportunity to meet the style muse herself during a personal appearance at the store tonight from 8 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.