Shop Talk: Chestnut Hill's Ann Taylor concept store

When I think of Ann Taylor, “hip” and “fresh” aren’t the words that immediately come to mind. So when I received an invitation to a cocktail party celebrating the launch of the brand’s new concept store in The Mall at Chestnut Hill sponsored by the Junior League of Boston, I was, shall we say, unenthused for a night of staring at suit separates. To my pleasant surprise, though, I was treated to a display of genuinely chic fashion at the über-trendy Ames Hotel in Beacon Hill.

Tables laden with elegant and edgy accessories lined the room: gold sandals adorned with chains, chunky earrings done in cheerful coral, and serpentine necklaces, all artfully arranged atop smooth stones. The event was designed to re-create the vibe of the concept store, which is the seventh of its kind that Ann Taylor has opened in the country. It differs from the regular outposts in that it has a relaxed, even homey, yet still upscale feel. A line of mannequins runs through the center of the space and splinters off into different rooms, which are embellished with crystal chandeliers, chaise lounges, and tables strewn with books. “We want the new store to draw in customers who would usually walk past Ann Taylor, while still retaining our old clients,” explains style director Kristin Rawson. “Boston is such a great market for us. It’s professional, it’s young — it’s full of chic women who deserve this store.” Well, I can’t speak for everyone in the city — but as a 20-twentysomething who would usually walk right past the old Ann Taylor shops, consider me sold on your fresh vibe.

Mara Berg contributes to Boston‘s online fashion and lifestyle coverage.