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WILD & WONDERFUL

When AnnTaylor opens its first store in Utah this week, the most exciting colors in the collection will be maize, red and olive green.

The store's opening celebration will be a benefit for Hogle Zoo - where the most exciting color this season is white. White as in White Tiger.Thomas H. Brooks, president of AnnTaylor, explains the nature of the opening celebration. He says, "It's an AnnTaylor tradition to open our new stores with a benefit. It's our way of giving something to the community and of saying we want to be participating, responsible contributors to its people."

Marketing director Pia Bird says the zoo will use the funds donated by AnnTaylor to help defray the cost of having a white tiger in Salt Lake City.

The tiger, Rewa, is a year-old male. He's on loan to Utahns from the Cincinnati Zoo. He's blue-eyed, white with black stripes, and a very rare animal, Bird says. "There are 72 white tigers in zoos around the world. Perhaps none are left in the wild."

Rewa will spend the rest of the summer in Utah.

Since some of the zoo's smaller animals will be partying at the AnnTaylor store on opening night, it seemed only fair to bring a bit of AnnTaylor to the zoo and let the larger animals in on what's happening.

The llamas especially were curious when the model Juliann from the McCarty Agency sidled into their midst wearing a plaid suit of olive and umber, classically styled with the new, slightly longer and lightly shaped jacket.

The suit was designed for AnnTaylor. Over 80 percent of AnnTaylor's merchandise is designed exclusively for the store, says Geri Savidge, who handles public relations.

The cotton sweater is $68, the rayon jacket $168 and the skirt $78.

Juliann's earrings, purse and shoes are also from AnnTaylor. Savidge explains that part of the concept of AnnTaylor is head-to-toe wardrobing.

"It's also interesting that we design with an overall palette. All the colors relate. It's a little like multiplying your wardrobe," to buy clothes in coordinating colors and combine them in various ways, Savidge says.

The lace square in the suit pocket sells for $14. The earrings are gold-colored teardrops set with semi-precious olive-colored epidot stones, for $28. The suede shoes are $106. The full flap leather minibag costs $21.

Were the llamas impressed by the classic colors and soft lines? It seemed so; they refrained from spitting.

When Juliann strolled by the giraffes, they were less curious than the llamas. Still, they wandered over to check out the model's cap-sleeved sheath and slim single-button jacket.

Maybe it was the bright red color that caught their eyes. Surely they had no appreciation for how soft the wool crepe felt or that both jacket and dress were fully lined. The suit sells for $298. The paisley wool/silk shawl from Italy is $80. The black pumps are $106.

Savidge says the rich fall colors that will enliven the store when it opens - including neutrals of umber, black, white and various shades of the other basic colors - will be changing. "We get new clothes in constantly. The palette of color changes almost every month."