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31-10-2007
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mary-kateandashleyfan

Act 2 for the Olsen twins: A fashion career

By Cindy Clark, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen might never appear together on-screen again, but the twins are still very much a team.
The 21-year-olds made a name for themselves reciting one-liners as little Michelle Tanner on Full House. As children, they made numerous successful home videos aimed at little girls (playing sisters pulling each other out of sticky comedic situations, of course). But they say pairing up on-screen is not in their future.

"If we did something in that sense again, it would be in terms of producing," Ashley says.

Acting aside, "we do everything together," Mary-Kate says.

That would include their new contemporary fashion line, Elizabeth & James, which they have been touting to shoppers on both coasts, first in Los Angeles, then Tuesday night in New York.
After the L.A. event, the petite power team — seated at a table in the garden of Chateau Marmont and sipping drinks (iced soy latte for Ashley, Diet Coke for Mary-Kate) — proudly chatted up their efforts.

"It was amazing, because it's something we worked so hard on, and for the first time, we actually got to see a response," says Ashley about the event at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus.

The pair worked on the gathering for two months, designing the invitations, décor, menu and music and making after-hours trips to the store to style mannequins. They want to make it very clear that Elizabeth & James isn't just another celebrity-endorsed clothing line. And while their non-famous siblings are Elizabeth, 18, and James Trent, 24, they claim the line isn't named after them, as has been widely reported.

"Can you please clarify that?" Mary-Kate asks, clearly annoyed but still smiling.

It's just a coincidence, they say; they call their sister Lizzie, and their brother Trent.

"We wanted to pick a male name and a female name," Ashley says. "I remember saying Elizabeth and James, and being like, 'Oh, my gosh, that's our brother and sister!' "

While that might be a tough story to sell, the duo's interest in fashion is not. Their image as wide-eyed, pouty-lipped beauties in magazine spreads and clutching coffees out and about in tabloid photos shows a sense of style that, like it or not, has made a mark in fashion history. In 2005, The New York Times explored their bohemian bourgeois "bobo" style and called them "trendsetters for the latest hipster look."

But the E&J line isn't a carbon copy of their own looks. The sisters say they wear simply what feels comfortable. "We dress a certain way, we buy a lot of vintage clothing," says Mary-Kate. "I've always been fascinated by furniture and clothes from a different time. You can change anything by the way you dress, by the way you put it together. It's almost like creating a little fantasy world for yourself, which is how I kind of look at fashion and most of the things I do."

E&J instead aims to combine two looks: a softer, feminine sophisticate (Elizabeth) and a tailored, masculine edge (James).

There are slouchy cardigans, shrunken blazers, a leopard-print coat. With most prices ranging from $145 for leggings to $775 for a leather jacket, it's more accessible pricewise than their other line, The Row, sold in Barneys New York and Harvey Nichols in London. They design both themselves, even doing their own sketches.

They also have the mary-kateandashley licensed brand, for ages 5-12 at Wal-Mart, for which they collaborate with an in-house designer.

'Divide and conquer'

To create E&J, they partnered with Jane Sisken of L'Koral Industries, the company behind contemporary label LaROK.

"Ashley and Mary-Kate are sticklers for detail," Sisken says. "They blow me away. They will look at something and know exactly what needs to be changed."

Because they split their time between New York and Los Angeles, where each has her own home, "we divide and conquer," Ashley says. "We design together, but for fabric selection, fittings, overseeing production. … We always try to have one of us in each city."

They are designing for a hip, young woman who is current on trends but wants to buy quality pieces that will last more than one season, Sisken says. She and the Olsens collaborate with a design team, but every stitch must pass muster with Mary-Kate and Ashley.

"It's our name, and we wouldn't compromise that," Mary-Kate says. "We don't want things that don't represent us and what we can do."

No one can say the twins are thin on work ethic. Ever since they landed the shared role on Full House at 9 months, they have been working. At 18, they took control of their company, Dualstar Entertainment Group, and now serve as co-presidents. In February, they took the top spot on Forbes' Young Hollywood's Top-Earning Stars list.

They are still a bit stunned by their fan base. "The audience from Full House is still around, from kids who are just starting to watch it to grandparents who grew up with it. … Everyone is able to connect with someone," Mary-Kate says. "I'm still amazed how much it has aired and who our audience is, because it's everyone."

But even they are vulnerable to insecurities of a typical twentysomething. At a recent party for shoe designer Christian Louboutin, Ashley left shortly after her arrival. "I felt so underdressed," she says. "I came in jeans and a T-shirt, and everyone was in these dresses with their hair and makeup done. I had not a stitch of makeup on!"

And like many others their age, they're learning how to balance a social life with work. "We've got great friends, and for us, fun is having a dinner and getting together and laughing or watching TV and ordering in," Mary-Kate says.

But, Ashley adds, "what's not fun is if you stay out until 3 o'clock in the morning and you have to show up to work the next day."

Though they have been seen in celebrity magazines for much of their lives, they're not comfortable with media exposure. (That exposure exploded in 2004 with months of speculation about Mary-Kate's appearance. In June that year, she entered treatment for an eating disorder.)

"I don't like being interviewed on-camera; it makes me feel uncomfortable. And I don't like being photographed," Ashley says. "I find that I'm more effective just doing the work behind closed doors."

They're still obviously close, swapping clothes and jewelry, though either could afford warehouses of her own.

"We share stuff, yeah — we kind of have to," says Mary-Kate, wiggling a finger bearing large gothic-style rings and pointing out, "This one's Ashley's."

On her feet: a pair of Ashley's shoes, metallic-studded, black Manolo Blahnik stiletto sandals.

Schoolgirls, interrupted

Both spent time studying at New York University in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. They're still enrolled, but graduating, they say, was never the goal.

College was "more about the experience, about studying subjects we were interested in and learning what we did and didn't like," says Ashley.

"I wanted to go to school to perfect a passion for interests," Mary-Kate says. "I took advantage of Gallatin to go intern for people and take acting classes outside of NYU but still be able to get credit." Her internships included one with photographer Annie Leibovitz.

"Mary-Kate took it very, very seriously," Leibovitz says. "She really wanted to be one of the guys and worked really hard. I think she really enjoyed it and used photography as an outlet, like I did when I was a young person, to help define herself. She didn't have any special privileges. She went out and got coffee like everyone else did."

Mary-Kate has also kept up her acting chops, appearing in HBO's Weeds and recently wrapping the film The Wackness.

But for now, fashion is their forte. They're hoping for a long designing career, though they realize they've had a boost starting out in the field. "We feel like we've had a head start because we've worked for so long," Ashley says. "But we're only 21."

Mary-Kate interjects, "We're just beginning to get it."

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31-10-2007
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thanks for the article!
and the pic is great!

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31-10-2007
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Yes. Thanks for the article. I am anxiously awaiting my pre-order ites from Bergdorff. They are schefuled to ship Nov. 9th.

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31-10-2007
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Great article!! Thanks for posting!

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31-10-2007
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Great article! Can't wait to see more from the collection.

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31-10-2007
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That's a great article. Thanks for posting!

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01-11-2007
  247
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from wwd...

Quote:
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen want to make one thing clear — they are fully committed to their brands.

The twins are in town this week showing off their newest contemporary line, Elizabeth and James, to retailers and press. While here, they arranged an event on Tuesday evening at the Moti Hasson Gallery here with their exclusive specialty retailer on the East Coast, Intermix.

"We just started selling the brand with the fall collection and it's doing very well," said Khajak Keledjian, chief executive officer of Intermix, which has 20 stores nationwide. "The line shows off a lot of creativity and is right in line with what our customers are looking for."

According to Sari Sloane, vice president of fashion merchandising at Intermix, the store has done especially well with a fake leopard coat for $795, a sequin dress for $450 and a men's wear-inspired blazer for $375. However, she noted, just about every item they ordered is selling.

Neiman Marcus carries the line exclusively on the West Coast.

The Olsens, meanwhile, were slaving over the styling for the event, which showcased the collection on mannequins and in gallery form, with some pieces pinned to the walls. The spring collection, which will be the second season for Elizabeth and James, includes silk chiffon printed tops, high-waisted pants, slim skirts, leather jackets, evening gowns and silk party dresses.

"This whole thing was three months in the making," Mary-Kate said of the event. "We worked on the look book, and we were just here earlier today for about three hours styling the mannequins."

"It wasn't easy, dressing and undressing and dressing. But it's all been great since we have the perfect relationship with our partner," said Ashley, referring to Jane Siskin, a partner in L'Koral Industries, a Vernon, Calif.-based firm, which also produces the La Rok contemporary line.

Ashley said the twins now are working on the fall 2008 collection. They said they would like to take it slowly but eventually see the Elizabeth and James brand as a full lifestyle collection, offering everything from sportswear to accessories.

"Everything my sister and I do is with integrity," Mary-Kate said. "We are both 150 percent involved in growing this line. This is what we do, we are in the fashion business."

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01-11-2007
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thx for the article cant wait to see the whole of the collection

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02-11-2007
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karma for posting the article!

definitely a nice read.

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04-11-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by just_me View Post
Completely agree Kuba!... I buy Marc as well as M by MJ, they both have the same feel.

Also.. I am in Milan every summer, my family has a house there and I know friends that buy Dolce as well AS D&G!
I know this is from a while ago but I just had to comment. I don't think M by MJ or MJ are the same at all. Completely different imo.

Also, I don't see Elizabeth & James as too expensive. Maybe the prices of a cardigan/pair of jeans is a little much but the dresses/coats are priced fine


Last edited by Lacroix; 04-11-2007 at 11:53 AM.
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04-11-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UrbanROYALTY View Post
"doesnt neccesarily want to pay the price" can mean soo much. I find the prices to be very normal. and whats expensive to one person, can be dirt cheap to the other.. i dont even like reading this thread any more because its irritating to see soo many people complaing about how much it cost??... both lines are different prices.. $495 is average for a dress.. Milly, La Rok, Poleci.. Catherine Malandrino.. are all priced like that.. but no one complains. If you cant afford it.. im sad for you.. if you can.. buy more!
You come across as very rude here - if you're able to voice your opinion on the prices, then why shouldn't the rest of us? I do not find the prices to be cheap, and given that this is a forum, I will let you all know of that.

If you think this collection is so cheap, why don't you supply all the posters here with free shirts?

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05-11-2007
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hahaha yes i second that actually. i like to think he lives a different life and he comes off as rude to us but to him thats how he has to be but i dont think you have to make us seem less of a person because we cant afford it.

i think its ignorant for you or for anyone to say that everyone has the same budget and lifestyle to afford a 500 dollar dress. i just got my first job a month ago and thats a months pay.

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21-11-2007
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Natalie Portman in E&J. I hope it's not a repost.

Portaman arrived at the premiere of her new movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium in a simple, but sexy minidress from Elizabeth and James. The actress gave her look the Midas touch with Té Casan sandals, a textured gold clutch and Renee Lewis jewelry.

instyle


Last edited by cathypamo2; 21-11-2007 at 03:38 AM.
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21-11-2007
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Thanks for the pic!!
I am liking this range, and the prices are good, but i dont think it really has any wow factor about it,...

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21-11-2007
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I really like it . They must feel proud.

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