Wednesday

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.

Images: http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f79/ann-taylor-campaign-archive-88495.html, anntaylor.com.

12 comments:

Southern Aspirations said...

The Loft is where the youngness should be, in my humble opinion. I actually have found I've been happier when I've picked up a few odds and ends at Loft than at AT. As far as the quality.... the trousers have been lacking a bit in recent years for me. I don't have a single pair of AT trousers where the hem hasn't fallen out. Not one. So, on my big shopping spree last night, I looked but didn't buy at AT and went for Banana and JCrew!

Style Redux 2 said...

I haven't set foot in an AT for years and with good reason. If they survive this economic slowdown it will be a miracle.

Down and Out Chic said...

you have very SMART reviews which i totally appreciate and i absolutely agree with your assessment.
definitely reminds me of a not-so-great imitation of jcrew.

Averill said...

I'm 100% in agreement, Skyla. Snoozeville.

I've always preferred AT Loft to AT, and I don't see that changing any time soon. But then again, I have a general distrust of both as they adamently refuse to make pants for women over 5'8".

Sanity Fair said...

SA - Thanks for pointing that out. I haven't bought from them in a while, so I was going off old intel. Sounds like other retailers are running circles around them!

Sanity Fair said...

Beth - agreed. They seem to have some "vision problems" with seeing and executing change.

Sanity Fair said...

DOC - thank you!

Sanity Fair said...

Averill - I know. Tallness discrimination! But their petite section is huge. Hmm...

Claire Watkins, ASID allied said...

I have a white wool crepe suit that I bought at AT in 2001 (when I graduated from highschool)-wore it for years with everything from sequins to turtlenecks. The few times I tried things on, they just had such a 'mom jeans feel'. And copying j crew? AT keep trying, but it ain't going to happen . J crew is slamming it for women of all ages-now THAT is style!

Sanity Fair said...

Claire - agreed. Frankly, I think they've gotten worse (I have an old fav from the early 2000s too). That's why the redesign sounded so good. Guess not!

Esme Vos said...

You are so right. I still have that suit pictured in your blog (worn by Linda Evangelista) and a silk crinoline dress from the 2004 Anniversary Collection. That's the last time I bought Ann Taylor. Since then, the company has gone downhill.

Anonymous said...

"The New Ann Taylor" has been awful. Some of the items have been pretty, but poorly made with inferior fabrics. Way too many ruffles! How many ruffled blouses does one girl need? The unlined poly/rayon blend pants were terrible in '09 and the cashmere was bad, too--in fact, all of the sweaters from fall/winter '09 were of poor quality. The spring '10 shoes were made in China, no longer Brazil..the price was the same as previous years, if not higher, but the quality was not as good.

I am happy to see that for fall '10, they've brought back wool pants with lining and knee-length wool skirts with lining. Hoping this is a turnaround.

It's great that Ann doesn't want to be known as a dowdy clothing line, and modernizing the line was a great idea, but KEEP THE QUALITY! There are some of us 20 and 30 somethings that appreciate exceptional quality and are willing to pay for it. Not all of us want fast fashion.

If Ann doesn't improve I don't know where I'll shop because Banana Republic's quality has been on the decline in recent years.

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