What a difference a mall makes! Last night's Trina Turk for Banana Republic launch at the Houston Galleria Banana Republic store was positively boring compared to the hair-pulling, elbow-throwing crowds at the Missoni for Target event last fall. When the floor opened to shoppers at 6 p.m. there was an air of casual excitement, but certainly no waiting-for-the-gun-at-the-starting-line sprinting toward racks--lucky for the waiters carrying trays of finger foods for shoppers to dine on.
Even if the Turk collection weren't displayed prominently at the front of the store, it would be hard to miss: big, splashy ocean patterns; bright pinks, turquoise, and oranges accented with fresh whites; the glint of gold-tone and enamel accessories. It's an eye-catching collection, and I couldn't wait to get in for a closer look.
It was a relief to see that the clothes themselves are well-constructed and made of high-quality fabrics. Silk, cotton, and cotton/silk blends dominate; rayon, Elastane, and Spandex make occasional, and small, appearances in a few garments. The seams were straight and sewn well, the zippers aren't cheap, flimsy plastic, and the clothes are cut well. But I had to ask--where are the petites? If you don't know, at the Galleria the Banana Republic has exiled its petite sizes to a separate store at the other end of the same section where the main BR store resides, so after snapping a few photos and window shopping a bit, I headed down to the petites to try on a few garments.
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I had already shopped the Trina Turk collection online the day before the store release, via a special Facebook "early bird" promotion but I wanted to see if I had chosen the correcti sizes. I ordered the Pisces top in pink/orange, the Swirl tunic dress, and top in the Crazy Botanical print that is apparently no longer available online. I tried on, and was satisfied with, the sizes I selected online, and then busied myself chatting with staff, shoppers, and the makeup artists the store had come in to help Trina Turk collection shoppers create an accompanying makeup look for their new clothes.
What a fantastic idea! The makeup artists kept me in the store far longer than I would have been otherwise -- I can only hope that Banana Republic has the team from JBX Studio on hand at future events. Senior make-up and hair artist June Xu and I agreed that the Trina Turk sateen short in bright orange were gorgeous, but a tough color/cut combination to pull off if you are self conscious about your lower half (I put them back), while associate artist Jessica Warburton did my makeup and dissuaded me from a short-short summer haircut; associate makeup artist and hair stylist Annie Chen snapped a few photos for us in between clients.
When you peel away the distinctive prints and the summer-bright colors, the collection remains very Banana Republic, particularly the short-sleeve safari jacket, sateen blazer, and other structured pieces. Even the blousy Pisces top retains an element of refined structure, making it easy to incorporate into a conservative wardrobe. This is a very fresh, very fun take on Banana Republic, and I remain hopeful for future collaborations with Turk.
Shoppers, don't despair -- by the time I was leaving the Galleria there were still plenty of garments hanging on the racks, and many sizes remain available online. I predict this surplus won't last long, so get shopping.