Any time a new retailer comes to Canada, there’s always loads of hype and, like a hard-to-get crush, the object of our affection is usually extra attractive because it’s so unattainable. When I heard that Ann Taylor was finally coming to Canada, my heart skipped a little beat or two, yet I was wary because a) Other US retailers who’ve planted their flag in Canada have set a nasty price-jumping precedent and b) I wasn’t sure if the brand was too safe, too conservative for my taste.

We walked into last night’s Ann Taylor Fall 2012 Preview at the Carlu not sure what to expect.  Fast-forward 15 minutes (and 2 glasses of wine) later and we’re chatting with other excited editors, snapping photos, tweeting madly (“Must Have these gloves…TO DIE! #newanncanada #newannrocks) and getting far too familiar with a pair of fall boots.  The Ann Taylor of Fall 2012 is so not the Ann Taylor that I remember from my past cross-border pilgrimages.  A major shakeup in the design team in 2008, under the watchful eye of Creative Director of Design, Lisa Axelson (formerly of Club Monaco), has brought a decidedly hip vibe to the conservative brand, with pieces perfect for both work and play.  Classic, well-made separates cavort with neon rock necklaces, while a cool mint angora sweater looks Mad Men-esque with a pastel tweed skirt.  My sister had to literally dab my chin with a napkin (Fashion Party Fail) after I drooled over the pony boots (colour-blocked and spotted), and I instantly put a printed black & white pant suit and leather driving gloves on my mental must-have list.

Now, onto the dollars and cents;  Ann Taylor is impressively affordable (not cheap, but not guilt-inducing by any stretch) and word is that we can expect the stickers to pleasantly surprise instead of shock, when the stores open this fall.  Thanks for the invite, Ann Taylor.  I hate to rush summer but now I’m so stoked for fall.

Mental Note: Ann Taylor is set to open at Toronto Eaton Centre in October 2012, Yorkdale Mall in November 2012, and online in 2013.

Stay In-the-Know: Follow Ann Taylor on Twitter @AnnTaylor and get on the mailing list at http://www.anntaylor.com/ann/editorial/AT-Zhidden/ANN-Canada-Page/cat900002 for all the Canadian updates.

Photo Credit: Johanna Simmonds

";