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Ann Taylor previews its trend-right fall collection at the Soho House

May 14, 2010 | 12:45 pm

ActressSo_Donat_60440208_600 Everyone knows that when you're looking for a basic black suit, Ann Taylor is a good place to start. But — surprise, surprise — the mid-priced chain is also becoming a destination for fashion-forward looks.

The brand has been on a rejuvenation kick since hiring new designer Lisa Axelson in 2008, and seems to have hit its stride in terms of transitioning from a house of mere "basics" into a mid-priced bastion of ladylike style.

The brand's ultra-feminine fall 2010 collection was on full display last night at West Hollywood's Soho House during a preview party that lured actresses Sophia Bush, Eve, Anna Kendrick and Taraji P. Henson, among others.

Hung on racks and scattered on tables and artful stacks of books, the retro-tinged collection jibed beautifully with the club's old-world decor.

Christine Beauchamp, president of Ann Taylor, said the brand has been working to spiff up its image since 2008, adding, "We love what Ann Taylor stands for as a heritage brand. We believed there was an opportunity to make the legacy modern."

Much of the collection reinterprets classic pieces, added Beauchamp, such as the shirt dress and the pencil skirt. "We're responding to our clients' desire to be more fashion-forward."

The collection, rendered in black, gray and a selective palette of metallic neutrals and jewel tones, features fantastic chunky knit sweaters (including a Norma Kamali-esque cocoon cardigan), cocktail party-ready wool coats and leather jackets, smart pencil-skirted day dresses, black ankle boots with Victorian-style button detailing and a dazzling array of blingy '20s-inspired jewelry  — from trinket-heavy rhinestone-and-pearl necklaces to Art Nouveau-esque silver-and-rhinestone wrist cuffs.

"We're exuberant about accessories," noted Beauchamp with a smile. "We always say, 'A little sparkle goes a long way, but a lot of sparkle makes you happy.'"

-- Emili Vesilind

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Photo: Sophia Bush and Eve at the Ann Taylor previews. Credit: Donato Sardella/Wireimage.