BANANA REPUBLIC FALL 2010
INSPIRATION: The lack of definition between what we wear to work, to play, to relax. Pairing masculine shapes with feminine details. The Himalayas, with a nomadic feel.
TOP LOOKS: Cardi, cardi, cardi – from the simple, to the oversized cable knits, to the more shaped blazer jackets – it's all about the cardigan. Some of the outerwear pieces, like the camel wool military jacket, were super-strong as well.
ACCESSORIES: Cool, poufy shearling top hats. Sturdy cone-heeled suede boots in a sky blue color.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: It is so refreshing to see a presentation, from what is primarily a mall store, that does not have some sort of grouping that's obviously been designed to appeal to First Lady Michelle Obama, and the ladies who think they should dress like her. There's none of that in this collection. That said, it's not exactly the same Banana Republic that had a wide appeal. This collection is very fashion-y with shrunken blazers and cargo pants and trousers that have evolved into leggings with pockets. It was a very well-styled presentation, utilizing mountains of BR items, yet most looks were not fussy, but just interestingly layered.
OLD NAVY FALL 2010
ACCESSORIES: Just below-the-knee double buckle boots ($34.95), low boots – a cross between a cowboy and motorcycle for a mere $29.50, a khaki-colored bucket bag for $19.50.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: Old Navy is one of those stores that finds one item and just kills it – offering it in every color, variation and so on – so that if you wear it, you see yourself coming and going. However, there's something kind-of great about both the fleece motorcycle jacket, which can be worn as a blazer or even transitional outerwear, and the riding pants, which we can see getting in color after color.
This retailer also does a good job with evolving the cardigan sweater with new silhouettes and closures (toggles!) to keep it looking fresh.
ANN TAYLOR FALL 2010
INSPIRATION: "I have a vision of the Ann Taylor woman going to Paris and being inspired and influenced by all these new buildings and the chicness of the Parisian women," Axelson told StyleList.
TOP LOOKS: Animal print sheath dresses, cropped leather motorcycle jackets paired with pencil skirts, perfect fall coats in camel or heather gray with ruffles, classic sweaters that can be worn for the office or while sitting fireside.
ACCESSORIES: Lots of bling-y bracelets and necklaces (best worn stacked) made to look like estate jewelry, oxford peeptoe booties, pale pink cashmere scarves, tall boots with a heel or flat in a riding style, bejeweled flats, leopard print pumps and clutches, a beautiful cream-colored satchel large enough to hold everything you own
WHAT WE THOUGHT: Ann Taylor continues to up the ante with each passing collection. The myriad of influences in their fall collection - Paris, military, old world glamour - manage to be stylistically on point while maintaining the true DNA of the brand. Ann Taylor devotees will still find comfort in the company's classicism while also being pleasantly surprised at the modern updates and influences.
LANDS' END FALL 2010
INSPIRATION: For the core collection, a continuation of its classic, well-designed pieces. Lands' End CANVAS, the company's new younger, hipper lifestyle collection, is striving to be cool and to provide "must have pieces for everyday," senior merchandise manager Jennifer Stevens told StyleList.
TOP LOOKS: The core collection offers a great collection of charcoal dresses – a sheath with flat pleats at the neck; a button front, military-inspired sheath and even a polo dress.
ACCESSORIES: We would be remiss if we didn't profess our love for the classic canvas bag, though the new woven nylon luggage is pretty sweet too.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: The Lands' End core collection is just what you'd expect it to be – non-flashy, classic pieces that could be the base of any wardrobe. They've cornered the market on things like sheath dresses and cardigan sweaters (in Feel Good Yarn – cotton/nylon/wool, which feels like cashmere at $49.50).
The CANVAS collection is where the excitement is. This collection had a soft launch in Nov 2009 and is being launched in a big way for fall 2010. This younger, more trend-driven collection is pulled together with fashion-y items like sweater dress, boyfriend blazers and the like.
"The CANVAS customer is classic and preppy, but likes to mix it up. She educated about fashion, so that when we say boyfriend, she knows what we're talking about," Stevens explained.
Denim is a large component of CANVAS, with their jeans coming in five fits – straight leg, slim leg, super slim, boot cut and boyfriend. "In the core collection our jeans are about the waistband fit, in CANVAS, it's about the leg size," Stevens said.
J.CREW FALL 2010
INSPIRATION: "This is all about Edie Beale-goes-to-Girl Scout camp," J.Crew Creative Director Jenna Lyons tells StyleList. "There's a bit of that grandma-chic that we always draw from. There are elements borrowed from the boys, but we decided she's at Girl Scout camp."
TOP LOOKS: The collection is, as usual, item-driven with great jackets -- particularly a boxy cropped one -- and vests leading the way. Of course, there is sparkle in the form of sequined T-shirts and skirts, and a new, super-featherweight lamé Jacquard tank. Trousers are full and cinched with belts, and there is a healthy representation of shorts.
ACCESSORIES: The Girl Scout influence also extends to accessories, hair, and makeup. "We let her earn brooches instead of badges," says Lyons. The models had a barely made-up but slightly flushed look and kind of brilliant braided bed head.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: The predominant tone in the presentation was olive. "I'm olive obsessed," Lyons says. "My olive fixation goes back to wanting to touch on the military moment." It was strong color set to play off of. We also loved the idea of shorts for fall, worn with tights, which is as practical as it is playful. Styled to a T, Lyons and her fellow J.Crewians delivered a strong collection that is consistent with their increasing demand for designer-like goods at a reasonable price point.
And if you like what you see here, check out what Ann Taylor is planning for Holiday 2010.