Color + Print: An evening with Anthropologie's Fall 2011 collection

Friday, August 12, 2011


Last night I had the pleasure of attending a special blogger-only event at Anthropologie's NYC showroom. Called the Color + Print event, the party brought together many of the city's top bloggers to peruse and try on yet-to-be-released items from Anthro's incredible fall line. I'm so excited for the fall clothing -- I think Anthropologie really put their heads down after their spring collection missed, got to work, and churned out something truly beautiful. I'm delighted to share tons of pictures and stories from the event with the community! The products from the event will hit stores in the next 2-6 weeks.

(Just want to see my photos? Here's the full set.)


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For Fall 2011, Anthropologie has returned their focus to two things we love them for: color and print. It sounds so simple but when you think about the pieces that missed in Spring or the way the collections have seemed off for the past few rounds it's been color and print that haven't quite hit. With new (and returning!) design leadership in the fold the creative team came together to build a cohesive collection that evokes this season's hot silhouettes while staying true to the Anthropologie creative spirit.


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The first thing I noticed is that the vignettes are a lot cleaner than they've been in recent seasons. Dresses have sharp lines and simple silhouttes. Skirts are familiar in shape but rendered in a fresh shot of color or covered in an eye-catching print. I heaved a sigh of relief -- hopefully Anthropologie is back! There are still some trendy pieces to be sure, like a faux-fur vest, some slouchy tops and still lots of maxi skirts but there's enough classic design here to assure any Anthro lover that a trip to the store won't be a waste.



The story of the fall collection began with a trip to Japan. After bringing back amazing textiles, prints and fabrics, the team worked collectively on how to modernize the ideas they saw while abroad. The color team worked to pull the saturated purples, greens, reds and golds out of the fabrics they saw. The print team experimented with Asian themes in their samples. I was happy to hear that the print team worked very hard to scale their prints, as I've felt that their print scale was off in the spring. Consideration was given both to the classic Anthropologie customer -- what shapes and prints will she be looking for -- as well as the runway shows -- what shapes are designers reaching for and what statements are they making. Focus was placed on getting all the details right, from the buttons to the trim.


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I was lucky enough to meet a few wonderful people from Anthropologie's design team. Mallory, the print designer I spoke with, had created the amazing bird print you see above by hand. She spoke of beautiful Japanese silks the team had for inspiration and the desire to construct floral, avian and abstract designs for the Anthropologie customer. The point of inspiration is clear but the end result has that Anthropologie flavor to it -- a slightly wistful break from what you'd see at the traditional box store or boutique retailer.


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Nicole, one of Anthropologie's color designers, had gone to a Massachusetts flea market and uncovered a 1930s-era French swatchbook. The colors within were part of the spark from which the Fall 2011 colors emanated. The book was at the event and I leafed through it with wide eyes. I couldn't believe how vivid the colors were 80 years later! The stories of color within were enough to make me want to break out my sketchpad and charcoals again.



Still, the runway shows of the past couple of seasons have me frightened, so I was searching around the showroom for shapes I can wear. No minis or pleated pants for me. About the only thing that I might try would be capes. Instead, I was hoping for knee-length skirts, pretty tailored dresses and sweaters that are warm without being oversized to swallow me. I'm happy to report that I saw all three of those things over the course of the night.



Anthropologie's accessories team had me chatting excitedly about bags, jewelry and shoes. I saw a polka-dotted version of my Fine-Ruled Satchel ($268, reviewed here) and a striped tote that I wanted to pick off the hanger and take straight to the boardwalk. One leather belt shaped into a bow had me drooling. And the shoes? Well there was one pair in particular that caught my eye...


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...oh yes. This beautiful pair of mary janes from Miss Albright is coming home with me, and from the Twitter reaction I got last nite, many of you as well. And who can blame us? Beautiful honey brown color, a darling bow, and a shape that feels both familiar and new. This is what Anthropologie is best known for. It's nice to see that they're getting back to the things we love them for. For the past couple of seasons, the desire to grow their customer base left them out of touch with their core customer. So long as Anthropologie remembers that original design delivered in beautiful color and print will always win new customers, they will be good to go.

On a more administrative note, everyone on Anthropologie's team was looking for feedback. So I happily passed along the things I've been hearing from the community. Anthro's team wanted me to convey that they read this (and the other Anthro blogs!) actively and pass along your feedback during their internal meetings.

Some of the things to come out of those meetings?
- the return of the online petites section!
- more styles coming in special sizes (jeans in 24/33 waists, long pants (hooray!), extended sizing)
- thicker knits this year (no more sheer!)
- higher quality source materials

The proof is in the pudding, so I can't wait to see the results of these conversations. I felt really bad while telling a member of Anthro's knit team how disappointed I was in the quality of the spring collection knits, but she took the feedback well and assured me that Anthropologie is taking steps to up the quality. Can't wait for those products to hit the stores!

Oh, and I got to play dress-up.


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In. The. Most. AMAZING. COAT. (And yes I'm wearing those mary janes pictured above.) I'm in almost head-to-toe Cartonnier, with a Deletta print top mixed in for good measure. I was so tempted to just run out of the showroom with the coat still on, 80+ degree temperature be damned. Of course logic got the best of me -- I'd like to be invited back to Anthro's showroom for future events -- so I grudgingly took it off once my photo was taken.

Because oh yeah, this wasn't a buyer event, it was a blogger event. Anthropologie rolled out the abstract red print carpet for us. There was clothing and accessories. There were personal stylists on-hand to help us create a look. There were hair artisans and makeup artists to give us a boost. And then there was a photo booth where we could get our picture taken. Those photos will be up on Anthropologie's Facebook page today, and a contest will be upcoming too! (Yes, in addition to the ones right here on EA right now.) I'll update this page with links as other bloggers post their thoughts on the event. I got to chat with a few of the lovely ladies at the event with me, but was very sad to miss the chance to talk to Keiko Lynn, who is one of my favorite bloggers!

It's a lot to digest, so I'll post about the contest, plus some sneak preview September 2011 catalogue shots, this weekend. In the meantime, check out my full slide show from the event and then have a look at this exclusive preview video below. Thanks to Anthropologie for the invite! I had a wonderful time chatting with my sister bloggers and talking with your amazing design team.