I took some time this weekend to check out the ISSA London collection at Banana Republic and was pleasantly surprised. The dresses and tops are the authentic ISSA patterns, reproduced in cheaper fabrics than the boutique line, but the quality is decent. The draping on the wrapped surplus bodice dresses and tops holds up nicely in the Banana Republic collection, although the designs are rendered in synthetic fabric blends of rayon, spandex , lyocell and cotton or in the case of the Issa Collection Short-Sleeve Pleated Dress in 100% rayon. Although the collection is selling briskly online, there’s still quite a bit in Banana Republic stores. My recommendation is to visit your local store and try the dresses and tops on, as the fit will vary, depending on the style you choose.
Our tops picks for fit in this collection are the Issa Collection Short-Sleeve Pleated Dress and the Wrapped Top with Three Quarter Sleeves. The V-Neck Dress with the French Twist Knot at the Bodice appears to be the top seller in the collection online. Like all of ISSA’s dresses, this one emphasizes the waist, but it doesn’t have the long wrap ties, which in the Banana design add bulk to the dress and can make the wearer appear heavier. It can also be a pain to get those ties to lie flat or go in the direction you want them to. This makes the pleated dress more appealing to the mass market, and more flattering style for more women. Priced at $130.00 US, it’s a decent price point for what it is. The seams are finished and the zippers aren’t in crooked, as with so many big-box designer items that I have seen from Target and other stores.
The Banana version of Kate Middleton’s ISSA dress that she wore for her engagement is in a heavier fabric than the original and isn’t the royal blue color that Kate wore, which makes it a bit of a disappointment. The color is more blue-green than royal blue. As previously stated, the wide ties around the waist won’t flatter every figure. There are plenty of these on the racks and online at Banana Republic. My prediction is that these will eventually go on sale, so if you like this style, watch the dresses online to see when it hits the sale racks.
In contrast to the dress, the Issa Collection Wrap Top is a winner. I bought this piece because it fits just right in the bust and emphasizes the waist. For $55.00 , it’s a great piece and it’s very comfortable (fabric is a blend of 50% Rayon, 28% Lyocell, 19% Cotton, 5% Spandex.) I saw the top in store in red and black, online there are few left in green. You can dress the top up with a statement necklace and pair with good pants for work or an evening out. It also looks great with a pair of jeans. The top is very versatile and can look different depending how you choose to style it.
I loved the print on the Issa Collection Blue Ceramic Printed Wrap-Tie Dress , but didn’t see it at my store, so I wasn’t able to test drive it. Judging by the online reviews, this is a hit or miss piece depending on your height and curves. Some Banana Republic customers found the ties on the dress too much and the dress too short (read the online reviews.) Because the style won’t suit everyone, I expect this one will also end up on clearance.
Overall, I give this collection a thumbs up as it has many more hits than misses. If you’re curious, do take the time to check out the dresses and try them on at a store. I”m a big fan of ISSA London and it’s great to have the opportunity to buy an ISSA dress for under $800.00 US. I expect to pick up some more ISSA when the pieces go on sale at Banana Republic (which I expect to happen, since US fashionistas may not be as keen on one of Kate Middleton’s favorite designers.)