Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An Exclusive First Look at Issa London x BR

Thanks to People StyleWatch Magazine, I was given exclusive access to today's Issa London Collection for Banana Republic Preview Event at the BR Soho store. I was very impressed with how the store was all decked out - a red phone booth, Pimm's Cups, and cookies that looked like Royal Mail postage stamps (I may have grabbed up the last one - yum)!

The entire collection was on display in a private room screened off from the rest of the store. While there, I got to see most of the collection (in both regular and petite sizes). Because the event was open to BR card holders all day, there were a number of items that were already sold out by the time I got there after work. However, they had at least one size left of most things so I can give you an early report on quality, texture, and general appearance.

I imagine one hot seller will be the classic solid color wrap-like dresses in the style of Kate Middleton's engagement photo attire. There was only one left at the preview event when I arrived. I have to admit I'm a little biased, as I was able to snag the Issa original from the Rent the Runway sample sale for under $100. However, I found the Banana Republic version to have a less formal appearance. It had a fairly similar cut to the original but the fabric was not shiny and sleek. Instead, it looked and felt more like a typical cotton dress. Because of the high quality design it is definitely worth the $130, but don't expect to get an exact replica of the Duchess's dress for that price. The solid color wrap tops are also made from that material.

The print tops and dresses are a different story altogether. They are generally a little bit more expensive than the solids and more closely imitate the fabric used for the originals. However, although that fabric is definitely more sleek than the cotton items, it's got a rougher more firm texture than the slinky original. It's not so flattering on those with a larger bust, as on some people the folds sort of stick out and would make you look bigger. There's also a big zipper that runs down the front of the dress (hidden by the wraps) that contributes even more to this problem. Overall, I did not find this material (+ the really large prints) to be as flattering as the solid cotton style dresses.

Correction (8/8/13): After my second visit to the stores, I took a closer look at the printed tops. They are actually the same cotton-heavy soft blend as the solid print items. They're really flattering but do grab a little in the tummy so you may want to purchase 1 size up from your regular size. They're now my favorite items in the collection!

There were a number of accessories and separates too - cardigans, necklaces, and scarves. They looked like the typical quality you would expect from Banana Republic. I thought they'd make some pretty great gifts

The collection will be available to everyone
starting at midnight tonight (morning of 8/8/13).

The Verdict: In the end, after seeing everything up close, my top picks were definitely the solid color wrap-like dresses and tops. They aren't too dressy to wear to work and truly represent Issa's unique style. The price points are great too!

Enjoy the best of the British!
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