Hi I’m Lili, Director of Trend/Color/Print&Pattern here at Ann Taylor and I’ve been with the company for the last two and a half years. My role is somewhat of a “hunter/gatherer” of ideas for the design team. I work with the design leaders at Ann to create the overall concepts and color palettes at the beginning of each season. Most days I think I have the best job in the world because I get paid to daydream!
The beginning of the design dream each season starts with images, fabric and color and creating a fantasy for our customer. Whether we want to take her on a journey to sultry hot Mexico or to a Scandinavian estate in the middle of winter it’s my job to hunt for images, color and prints that bring all of that to life for the team. I need to help create the dream for the designers so they can then go on to bring the fantasy to life in the clothes.
A typical day for me varies wildly depending on where we are in the season. At the very beginning I’m in high concept mode, going out to museums and bookstores to find images and color that inspire a new design journey. I have to keep my mind open to new ideas because I never know when they might appear to me – it might be as simple as observing a woman on the train on her way to work, a simple moment of white cotton lace peeking out from beneath her suit and the way she’s sitting that sparks an image of Frida Khalo – that leads to a conversation with our Senior Vice President of Design Lisa, who just got back from a vacation in Mexico and BAM!, a summer concept is born.
Then the idea hunt really begins…digging through dusty vintage at the Rose Bowl market in LA (here I am browsing the market) for lace and cotton peasant tops…hunting online for images and info on Frida Khalo…searching through fabric stores for that perfect shade of pink that matches the flower in Frida’s self-portrait…finding the perfect print that brings together all the colors of a Oaxacan market. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Then the real work begins…time to wake up from the daydream and dig into how we’re going to make this dream come to life. The idea digging gets a little more specific and I have to start listening to the design team and finding them what they need…finding perfect prints that work back to our suits….pulling together a final color palette that provides enough range for a designer and merchandiser to create a table of knit tees that is so gorgeous our customer has to buy all 5 colors…scouring vintage swatches to find a new way to embellish a silk top…our fearless leader Lisa “must” have a gorgeous printed platform in the collection and I need to find a one that will work…pronto.
The final part of my job is to make sure the color and prints we dreamed up at the beginning live up to expectations in the store for our customer. My team and I work with the design and production teams to correct colors and prints and help finalize any issues so we can bring one season to a close and move onto the next. We might advise a mill that the fabric they dyed up is not quite the perfect shade of “Frida pink”… or point out to a printing mill that they didn’t quite capture the delicate lace print to our standard…or scramble to find a new print for a must have dress at the last minute.
Even though I’m lucky enough to have a fun and creative job that keeps me on my toes, the BEST part of my job is working with our design team. Did you see “The Devil Wears Prada”? Well, I happy to say I don’t have to work with devils, I get to work with an amazingly smart and talented group of people who don’t let it go to their heads and stay positive in the midst of crushing deadlines. Clothes, shoes, bags and happy people…what’s not to like?