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Ann Taylor gets a makeover

November 20, 2009 |  1:27 pm
About a month ago, a friend and I were strolling through the Beverly Center, when to my surprise she requested we make a stop at Ann Taylor.  A present for her grandmother, I assumed, but it wasn’t the case.  She, in a Balenciaga lace bandeau top and Nina Ricci ankle boots, made a beeline for a table of shiny accessories and started trying them on.  Still confused as to why we were in my mom’s favorite shopping destination, I spotted another young lady shopping, wearing beaded moccasin boots and the cover look from the Urban Outfitters catalog.  I knew right then, this was no longer my mother’s Ann Taylor.PaveGlitterBallPndntNecklace_00008 copy

Getting a second look at the holiday collection and a sneak peek at spring 2010 Thursday afternoon, I was again impressed and in awe of how different and good the clothes and accessories at Ann Taylor are looking.  Vintage inspired rhinestone baubles, chunky stone necklaces woven with grosgrain ribbon and decadent-looking cocktail rings are the bright spot of their holiday offering -- and everything is priced from $60 to $100, which is a lot of bling for your buck considering the high-shine impact these pieces make.  The dresses are classic and feminine,  simple shifts with bow details at the shoulders, a '40s inspired polkadot dress with side ruching and flirty black cocktail dresses adorned with delicate rhinestones at the waist can look subtle and traditional, but can easily get styled with fun and quirky accessories for an even more youthful look.

Ann Taylor’s facelift is due in part to their new creative director Lisa Axelson, who signed on starting with fall 2009 after creative roles at Club Monaco and Banana Republic.  Axelson has injected a fresh and more youthful feeling into the design of the line, but not to the point where you wouldn’t recognize it (there’s still plenty of ribbon-trimmed cardigans and practical trousers).  Also, look out for their ad campaigns -- Heidi Klum is the “face” for holiday and according to an Ann Taylor rep, the star of their spring campaign will be an even bigger surprise, someone most people wouldn’t have previously associated with the brand at all.

I’m sure the fashionable young ladies I saw perusing the Ann Taylor store at the Beverly Center won’t be the last.  The spring line is chock full of chic, silk trench coats, slim cut blazers and slouchy camp shirts in a color palette of dusty grays, ivory and plum that would suit various wardrobes and budgets.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photos: looks and accessories from the Ann Taylor holiday collection/Ann Taylor