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Ann Taylor gets a makeover

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
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I spotted another young lady shopping, wearing beaded moccasin boots and the cover look from the Urban Outfitters catalog.

I can't say that this face lift represents progress, as it sounds more like an attempt to turn AT into typical mall fare versus the [grown up] women's apparel store so many of us have valued in the AT brand over the years. Each AT seems to have different target markets as some are clearly geared toward weekend warriors while others such as the NY area stores have historically -- and thankfully -- filled the racks with corporate business attire that does not make 35+ women look like they're desperately trying to hold on to youth without considering how ridiculous they look in highly trendy clothing designed for a much more youthful crowd.

AT, sometimes less is more. Don't rush too fast to become just another Limited mall shop.

Personally, I'm excited about Ann Taylor's new face. As a 22 year old, transitioning from my college look to work attire, I was pretty surprised to see Ann Taylor filling the bill on quite a few of the things I was looking for...

I actually always thought AT was a classy elegant timeless clothing store. Their clothes always fit well and did not look cheap. Pricing was good as well, especially with promotions and sales. You could always get a nice wardrobe for work and/or going out. The line was always "safe" for the most part and I don't mind them increasing the modern factor a bit. It just shouldn't become "juicy couture" with fleece priced at over $100... I hope that does not happen.

The makeover is just that: a superficial facelift that masks the mediocre quality of fabrics made in China. Ann Taylor does offer good value for modern upscale-looking women's wear, but it doesn't justify inflated prices for the same cheap materials they were selling before. I'd rather buy a $150 Jcrew sheath dress made in Canada than a $150 Ann Taylor sheath dress made in China. The latter, as experience has shown, would most likely wear and tear at a faster rate because the quality of fabric just isn't good.

The garment quality has gone noticeably downhill in the last 2 years, such as omitting the lining in skirts. Come on AT, please offer quality garments that professional women can proudly wear to work!

AT, sometimes less is more. Don't rush too fast to become just another Limited mall shop

i like so much !! thanks


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