Since taking the design reins at Ann Taylor a year ago, Lisa Axelson has been working hard to give Ann a new, more stylish attitude. And if the lavish vignette-style fall presentation last Thursday — at the scene-y Ace Hotel, complete with celebrities Rachel Bilson and Christina Hendricks and a performance by singer-songwriter V.V. Brown ­— is any indication, the company is clearly invested in revamping its sensible workwear image.

“I feel like we’ve evolved, but we still have a foot in the past,” said Axelson of the collection, inspired by Twenties Parisian salons. Short, body-conscious ruched dresses, military jackets and the accessories offer of high heel town-and-country oxfords and statement necklaces upped the fashion quotient. But there were plenty of basics, too. Crisp white shirts, black pencil pants and a lush cocoon sweater addressed accessible, everyday fare. All of it was executed with a sophistication nowhere more evident than the leopard prints, which, according to an Ann Taylor spokesman, will be a signature for the label.

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