Designer of the bold and feminine line, Milly, Michelle Smith grew up dreaming big. Smith earned a scholarship to Moore College of Art and Design to study fashion illustration during high school. She later followed her passion to Paris, completeing an internship at the Paris headquarters of Hermes. Smith recently joined design forces with Banana Republic for a special line, Banana Republic Milly which launches in stores May 30! This line brings Hamptons style with bold prints and amazing cuts and is made up of more than 60 pieces for men and women, including jewelery and bags. With stars like Zoe Saldana, Cheryl Cole and Beyoncé being big fans of the brand, we see this collab selling out fast.
I had the chance to sit down one-on-one with the designer, and grab some inside scoop on her design process, and how the line Milly came about.
29S – How would you describe the brand Milly to someone?
MS – I think it's feminine, advanced contemporary fashion and bold. I love to be noticed and I think when a customer wears my clothes she definitely gets noticed!
29S – This is your first time designing menswear, how did you bring the personality of Milly into men's clothing?
MS – I just had to tone it down a little bit, luckily it's a great time right now to be doing menswear, and I think men's fashion is becoming more daring and men are really getting into it and becoming more individual with their fashion choices. I took a lot of my prints, scaled them down and toned down the colors for the guys but I would love to see a guy wearing those printed shirts! I love topping it off with a really nice sports jacket, I think it pulls it all together.
29S – What are some of your favourite pieces from this line?
MS – I love the elephant shorts! I could wear those with a great heel and a sports jacket to go out and with a t-shirt and flats for the weekend – they are such a versatile piece. Short's are having such a moment right now, and printed short's are so great. I also love a good statement dress. They are so easy breezy and you can dress them up or down and it's in they are in my signature Milly print!! (**Smith is wearing this dress below!)
29S – How did this collaboration come about with Banana Republic?
MS – Simon Kneen (Creative Director and Executive VP of B.R.) and I have know each other for a while and we have always sort of played around with the idea of doing a collaboration together. We just thought 'hey, let's just made it happen!'
29S – Can you describe your design process?
MS – For me I am really inspired by print and fabric. I love designing my own fabric and prints for the collection and that's where it really starts. It's a really personal and fun experience and is like creating art and a collage to me. I just throw all my fabrics on the floor in my studio and I love to create stories!
29S – When did you realize this is the path you wanted to take in life?
MS – I was always very artistic growing up, from the time I was four, I can remember sketching people and clothing. But, I really knew I wanted to be a designer at the age of eleven. At that age, all of my art really parlayed into fashion and illustration.
29S – Do you have any tips for inspiring designers?
MS – I worked really hard! I never thought for a second that it wouldn’t happen. I think that's the great thing about youth, you never think for a second 'what if it doesn't happen.' Dream big and you can make it happen!
Left: Smith then went on to show me the contents of her purse! Filled with candy, makeup and even this AMAZING sketch of future dresses to come!
Right: myself with Michelle Smith (in her favourite print from the line!)