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Talbots Has Something to Celebrate
Holiday 2010talbots flannel cargo pant

It was Shakespeare who coined the phrase “all that glitters is not gold” (“The Merchant of Venice”, 1596), but at the Holiday 2010 Collection Preview at Talbots, the wisdom of that adage was disproven over & over again, as these pieces may not have been literally worth their weight in the actual metal form, but in the fashion equivalent, many of these pieces exceeded their value & will no doubt result in the literal form for the company at the cash registers.  The showroom, perched some 40 floors above Manhattan, was literally a-sparkle as I entered.  Gold was used as metal in the hardware & jewelry, as well as in matte sequins on sweaters & shoes, metallic glazing over trench coats or jackets, & even appeared as an updated nylon puffer vest.

But once the shine was stripped away, beneath were real clothes that showed a considerable update over Talbots seasons past.  It seems that the long touted Talbots reinvention, under the creative direction of Michael taffeta plaid skirtSmalldone has finally arrived!  The spirit was notably younger in attitude & even perhaps in fit, as some of the jackets & blouses that were nipped in at the waist & as well as some of the denim jeans with a noticeably shorter rise can attest.  The jeans, being introduced into the retail stores soon, are coming in several fits (4 I recall) including, (gasp) the all important “Boyfriend Fit” that has been running its fashion course from blazers & outerwear to jeans & sweaters in all levels of the market. 

Classic Talbots customer’s needn’t feel abandoned, as the collection also included many faves, like the perennial “Hostess Skirt”, this time a tiered ruffle version in black georgette that reached all the way to the floor & was shown paired with a crisply tailored black blouse that is very elegant when worn buttoned low with a statement necklace, like one of the many being offered.  I’d personally like the look finished with the black “rosette tote” bag as an over the top entrance statement.  Classics like the sweater twin set & the roomy jackets to be worn as layers were also shown in a range of colors that will not disappoint.talbots evening gown

The collection truly is a departure for the company that has been striving to address the needs of what they have identified as the “forgotten customer” between the ages of 35 & 45.  Reinvention of a classic is no easy task & changing market perception is an even more difficult row to hoe (to quote my Southern Grandmother).  However, with pieces like the season’s signature “rose-print dress”, the striking side-draped “satin dresses”, the olive “long hair shearling coat”, the olive eyelet “lace dress”, gray “flannel cargo ankle pants”, & the black watch taffeta “plaid skirt” (available by special order is an ostrich feather hem crinoline under skirt… a MUST have for Holiday), I’d say they are well on their way to achieving both.  There’s even the company’s first evening gown, a black “matte jersey halter dress” which serves as an optimistic allusion to there being something to celebrate.  Given the collection they showed, I believe they may just have cause to raise a flute & say a toast come January!

-R. Scott French



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