Austyn Zung on Ann Taylor’s Fall Inspirations

by Kristen Heinzinger
Austyn Zung
Austyn Zung

Austyn Zung

If you’ve been paying close attention to LOFT and Lou & Grey for the past few years, you’ll have noticed chic tweaks cropping up season after season. That’s thanks to creative director Austyn Zung, who is now the mastermind behind all three of the company’s lines—Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Lou & Grey. She’s infusing her creative magic and Oscar de la Renta touches into the label, elevating everything from a staple trench to a wide-leg trouser to a perfectly pointed pump.

This was your first time designing Fall for the three brands—Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Lou & Grey.
I move between three collections on a daily basis. Each brand has a very distinct DNA and aesthetic. It is important for me to stay present and focused on whichever brand I am working on in that moment. I am lucky that I work with three incredibly talented design teams.  Each team lives and breathes the personality of the brand they work for.  

What were some of your references for the Fall/Winter Ann Taylor collection?
We were very inspired by the romantic eccentricity of British and French style icons from the 1960s: Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Hardy, and Charlotte Rampling, to name a few. It is a chic take on “more is more,” often combining menswear tailoring and fabrics with ultra-feminine pieces such as Victorian-inspired blouses, overt floral jacquards, and opulent pattern play. 

Any transitional summer to fall pieces here, or something that’s good for a chilly summer night?
Absolutely! With the unpredictable changes of weather these days, I am a believer that 80 percent of my wardrobe should be transitional, meaning I can wear it 10 months out of the year. I focus on bringing that same idea to our clients  A perfect example of this is our “kick crop” pant that hits just above the ankle. It’s a modern shape that you can wear with flat sandals in the warmer months and then pair with a short chunky heeled boot as the days get chillier. 

What inspired the patterns?
We were loving whimsical graphic patterns and classic menswear-inspired fabrics but played with scale to make them modern. Victorian-inspired botanicals and florals played throughout for a feminine feel. Animal prints and patterns are such an important part of what we do…they have become an iconic part of our collection.

What ’s new in the footwear category?
We have a great chunky heel and round toe shoe that everyone in the office is dying to wear. We start it in Fall with rich autumnal suede colors. For winter, we layer on a tiger print, lace, and an encrusted jeweled heel. 

What’s your game plan for Ann Taylor?
I am focused on designing feminine, chic, and versatile collections that modern women today want to live in. Clothing serves a purpose but should also be joyful. We design clothes that we are excited to wear!

Are there Oscar de la Renta influences in this collection?
I am fortunate that Oscar taught me so much.  He had a great appreciation for femininity, color, pattern, and detail. These are attributes I carry with me every day. I don’t often intentionally reference his work but my time with him is an important part of who I am as a designer.

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