If you told me one year ago that I'd be shopping at Ann Taylor, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Me, shopping in that stalwart work-a-day ladyland? I don't think so.
Well, I'm eating my words now after taking a tour of the newly redesigned Ann Taylor space in Mall of America (MOA), which had its grand opening Saturday, June 2. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to buy things at an Ann Taylor. A fleet of stores have already undergone a chic, bright remodel, turning what was once the go-to for working women and housewives into a more fashion-forward spot that even salesgirl/freelancers like me can feel comfortable popping in.
Housed on the second floor in the Macy's wing of MOA, Ann Taylor is the newest MOA location to get an upgrade to match that shiny new floor. It's the first Minnesota redesign; Southdale will get one next year.
Clean, pristine white walls and tiles create the illusion of a large, airy walk-in closet, decorated with photos and mementos. Swarovski crystal chandeliers hang near the fitting rooms, each decorated with individual wallpaper in a subdued floral print.
It's not necessarily a "new Ann Taylor," though; it's just been given a pretty sweet makeover. At heart, the store retains many of its core values. "At the heart of the brand, it's all about making you feel relevant, modern and chic," said representative Arlena Pordoy, who flew in from New York for the opening. "[The Ann Taylor customer] is a woman of substance and style, a working woman, a mom, a doctor, a lawyer...there's something here for every woman."
The store is laid out much in the same way said woman's closet would be: more contemporary pieces towards the front (most priced around $75-$200), workwear near the middle, and casual pieces towards the back of the store. Clusters of mannequins show off ready-made ensembles—a "fashion story" of sorts, just in case you've only got 20 minutes of lunch break to shop with. "It's easy for the modern woman to see how she can put things together," Pordoy said of the design.
Former Club Monaco designer Lisa Axelson has taken the helm at Ann Taylor, and her sophisticated, colorful and modern touch is obvious. While Ann Taylor's "perfect pieces"—a silk camp shirt, the Chelsea Crop pant, the versatile cardigan—are always available in a rainbow of colors, they've added pieces you can take out dancing too, like a lime green reptile clutch with shoes to match. It's "fashiony" but it's 100% accessible.
This season's celebrity spokeswoman is Kate Hudson, whose face decorates a fitting room wall and who definitely sold me on a buttercup yellow maxidress. Their celebrity faces are "women who do it all," meant to resonate with the woman who "lives a full life," Pordoy said. (Former celebs have included Heidi Klum and Naomi Watts.)
Well, I'm a freelance writer who also works for a local retail chain, so I'm going to consider myself a woman who "does it all." After all, I need that yellow dress.
60 E. Broadway