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Banana Republic's Simon Kneen and Anna Karenina's Jacqueline Durran on Their New Collaboration and Capturing Russian Chic

Yesterday, we joined Banana Republic's Creative Director Simon Kneen for a preview of the brand's holiday wares—including that buzzed-about Anna Karenina collab inspired by Keira Knightley's upcoming film. The movie's costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, was also in attendance, and I couldn't resist asking the pair a few questions about their forthcoming capsule. After all, we get really, really excited about anything having to do with a period piece.

Lucky: Tell us a bit about how this collaboration came about.

Jacqueline Durran: Well, Simon had already been working with the idea of Russian romanticism for his holiday collection, and then the Anna Karenina angle came along later, and it was just a natural fit. I came to the studio with him and pulled out certain elements from holiday that could create the Anna Karenina look, and then we had a lot of fun putting everything together. In the movie, we used lots of big jewelry, lots of fur...and all those elements are here in the collection.

Simon Kneen: It really was kismet. We were already working with the fabrications and the colorations from the film, but working with Jacqueline to really capture the theme and add these magical touches was a real pleasure.

Do you guys have a favorite look from the capsule?

SK: I love the black pleated chiffon dress shown with the beautiful fur hat—which is actually a shrug! You can wear it as a scarf, as a hat, anything really. I love versatility.

JD: For me, it's the fitted black lace dress—it's both modern and period. I'd pair it with the fur wrap, then add a big piece of jewelry to that—a big jeweled brooch, maybe—and just pile it on from there.

What are some tips you can give us for capturing the look of this historical period without going overboard?

SK: I think jewelry's key. I mean, who doesn't have black in their closets? So wear something simple and then have fun with your accessories—that way, you can capture the theme without it seeming costumey.

Jacqueline, tell us a bit about the clothing concept you used for the film.

JD: I was given a brief by the director very early on: he wanted the costumes not to be accurate 1870s clothes, but ones mixed with the simplicity of 1950s couture instead. So we looked to vintage Balenciaga, for instance. Since it wasn't such a pure period piece, it became easier to take elements from it and make a Banana Republic-style Anna Karenina look later on.

Lastly, Simon, you're obviously inspired by so many different eras each season. If you could pick just one to actually live in, which would it be?

SK: Oh, imperial Russia for sure! It was very dangerous—but oh my god, the clothes, the champagne, the vodka!

The capsule, which hits stores in October (mere weeks before the film's November 9 release) will range in price from about $40 to $325. Judging by how well BR's Mad Men-inspired collections have sold, it's a sure bet that "Banana Karenina," as we're calling it, will fly off shelves as well. Click through to check out the looks.

Courtesy of Banana Republic

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