The New Ann Taylor

Linda Evangelista for Ann Taylor, shot by Patrick Demarchelier in 2004.

The new Ann Taylor ...looks just like the old Ann Taylor. Really, maybe this shouldn't come as a total shock, but I was expecting a lot from the much vaunted Ann Taylor "overhaul." And it's not like the fashion house hasn't had it's big moments. The workhorse of women's workwear had a spectacular anniversary in 2005, with a marvelous Linda Evangelista heading off the campaign (above and below). Chic and sleek. You know you want to be her!
Anyway, so when news broke of an AT redo, visions of Evangelista and Demarchelier were dancing in my head. Nope. What we get are clunky, poorly edited looks that raid past seasons of J.Crew and Chanel for inspiration - or Ann Taylor's own collections. While the 50th anniversary line brilliantly played off themes from AT's decades of history, this new set doesn't have a look a day older than 2000. Too bad.

Ugh! How dullsville is this? The ruffle shirt has come, stayed, bought a house, and lost it to foreclosure by now. Pairing the top with a severely tailored (severely polyester looking) suit jacket, but mismatched suit pants, just makes the model look like a really harried office drone who dressed in the dark this morning (and the hair isn't helping).
Same top, more cuteness, at J.Crew.

So many issues here that I almost feel the need to bullet point. There's the 80s mini tweed tween thing, the excess of ruffles, and the fact that we've seen this look a MILLION times. The Chanel suit imitation is as common as the zipper, and it's been done so much better. I swear Spiegel carried the same jacket last year. Yes, Spiegel.

Another look. The jacket is very average, as is the belt. Where's the pizzaz? Also, where's the color? A few minutes on the AT website, and I thought I'd accidentally clicked on White House Black Market instead.

My big beef with AT is that they're apparently trying to look younger- to which I say: get over it. The Holy Grail of Youth has led many a decent designer into the valley of sartorial doom. What women need are chic, thoughtfully designed clothes that neither condemn them to denchers nor cry out for a driver's liscense check at the ABC store.

The bottom line? The usual suits and tops at AT are still well constructed, and some of the new bags and shoes are nicely done, if a bit overpriced. This season, you probably will visit the Ann Taylor store, but it will be for the same old reason as last year: basic and practical workwear.



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