Ann Taylor’s New Concept of Style

By Allie Duncan

Ann Taylor has always been a shopping destination for classically chic clothing. And now, having evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of working women, Ann Taylor is defined by its unique aesthetic that is able to provide style for women across every generation. “Ann Taylor’s rich heritage has always been synonymous with iconic style for modern working women,” says Andrew Taylor, Ann Taylor’s Style Director (of no relation to Ann). “Under the design leadership of Lisa Axelson, the collections are more fashion forward and are designed to address the needs of today’s working women.”

In 2010, Axelson was recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for her work on the Ann Taylor brand and her contributions to American fashion. “Our stores are a reflection of our new fashion direction,” says Axelson. “They are light, modern, feminine and designed to showcase the full Ann Taylor collection while making our client feel comfortable and welcome.”

The new Ann Taylor boutiques are inspired by a stylish modern contemporary home with white-washed maple hardwoods floors, luxurious crystal chandeliers, modern tufted furniture and sleek feminine fixtures inspired by every women’s dream closet. The overall feel of the store is warm and inviting, a perfect place to have an intimate shopping experience.

In addition, the new Ann Taylor stores have wardrobing niches that allow for strong fashion stories as well as an assortment of product. “Special attention was also given to the design of the styling rooms, which feature unique floral wall coverings, luxe ottomans, plush carpeting, and a new proprietary lighting system with flattering back lit mirrors,” says Taylor.

The store is an extension of the brand’s new fashion direction and serves as a visual backdrop for the updated collection. Taylor explains that the shopping experience is better on many levels, including curated fashion presentations, expert styling services, and Axelson’s favorite looks of the season at the front of the store to greet the client and provide styling ideas.

“The key fashion message is complemented by shop-in-shop destinations, including the ‘Career Chic’ shop, a ‘Petites’ shop and an ‘Accessories’ shop,” says Taylor. “Dedicated stylists are also on staff and are available for both walk-ins and appointments to help clients put together individualized looks for every occasion.”

And if clients would prefer to spend the day shopping with friends, adjacent to the styling rooms is a private lounge area where customers can relax and try on outfits while shopping. And for Chicago residents, there are plenty of store options for one to choose from. A new concept store was opened at Michigan Avenue in March and one at Deer Park Town Center last August.

Ann Taylor also has stores in Chicago at Water Tower Place, South Lasalle Street, and Oakbrook Center. Other stores in Illinois include Northbrook Court, Orland Park Crossing, Geneva Commons, Wheaton Town Square and Main Place.

Taylor advises, when shopping this fall, to keep an eye out for strong feminine pieces that make an impact – modern, sculptural silhouettes, but always with a soft feminine twist of understated glamour. “The Ann Taylor Fall 2012 collection was inspired by Axelson’s recent trip to Paris and the 1960s’ French couture,” says Taylor. “Women who knew fashion is elusive and who embraced the timeless styles of the 60s but still know how to keep them fresh and updated with unexpected color and texture combinations.”

Taylor goes on to say that there will be plenty of wear-now dresses and form-fitting pencil skirts; modern tops matched with skinny pants in graphic prints; great outerwear in bold colors like sapphire blue and jade green as well as timeless camel coats. Accessories include snow leopard ankle boots, ballet flats in a range of jewel tones and riding boots, which are always great for travel.

“As Style Director, I partner with Axelson to communicate our season design vision to the press, to stylists, to editors and to women across the country,” says Taylor. “It’s really about showing women Lisa’s point of view, listening to them to find out what they love and feel comfortable in, and helping style them to make looks their own.”

If the new Ann Taylor concept stores are any indication, it should be no problem finding a perfectly tailored fall wardrobe this season to fit one’s every need.