Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's clothing label takes the spotlight.
Walk into the Row's studio in New York's Chelsea neighborhood and you will see no clothes. Sure, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, designers of the Row, have been credited as key to what those of short memory call "new minimalism," but this is a little method. "Oh, man, the clothes are gone," sighs Mary-Kate, looking fine in a vintage red-and-black-spotted Yves Saint Laurent blouse, jeans, and skyscraper heels. "They're off in sales," explains Ashley, on brand in a slouchy Row sweatshirt, pant-skirt, and flat sandals.
That's what happens when everyone wants what you're selling. After 24 years of growing up in front of the American public, Mary-Kate and Ashley now occupy a desirable, influential position in the fashion world. After only three years in business, the Row, born with a luxury T-shirt, sits next to Rick Owens, Lanvin, and Azzedine Alaïa in the world's best retailers. But this success didn't come by accident or through money or connections.
"We work," the two stress almost simultaneously (six days a week, commonly). It's a knee-jerk defense bred from years of intrusive pictures and tabloid gossip insinuating they did anything but. "Remember that crazy time when all of us young girls were being followed?" Ashley says. The two were like hunted animals, their only defense a venti Starbucks. Now that they have both moved to New York full-time, oddly, we see them less. "We're either at home or here at the studio," Mary-Kate notes. "I think they got bored of us."
While you might guess that the Olsens' sartorial preference—a long, covered-up look—might come from a desire not to be seen, you'd be wrong. Mary-Kate explains, "We've always been attracted to longer—" "Layers, silhouettes," Ashley says, finishing her sentence.
"When we were growing up, our mother taught us never to have your belly button exposed," Mary-Kate adds. This low-key, tempered sensuality is the spine of their collection. The Row lady doesn't need to put it all out there because she has something going on "in here." This mood was reflected in the Olsens' Fall 2010 presentation, just 19 looks in a simple palette, worn with the same summery flat: a black wrap coat, a precise white shift dress, a languid jumpsuit—all the pieces girls want but have a devil of a time actually finding. Resort had a similar quiet confidence, each look paired with vintage Prada loafers. Both Olsens are huge Prada fans. "Miuccia's spin always has a sense of humor, which I love," Ashley says. "Céline's quite amazing too," adds Mary-Kate.
Though the two don't fantasize about giving anyone a "Row-over," they would like to dress the first lady. "I'd love to get Michelle Obama in the Row," Ashley says. "The simple suits and things. It's all made in America, so why not?" But the two chalk up their first success to Lauren Hutton, whom both are "obsessed with" and who was shot for Forbes in 2007 "on a motorcycle in our leather leggings. I think there's nothing chicer than that," says Ashley. The Olsens have in fact already appeared in Forbes—the first time as kids. Toddler titans? "Nah," says Ashley, giggling. "The Most Powerful Crawlers."
So, newly 24, newly East Coast, but always in control, Mary-Kate and Ashley are, yes, getting their ducks in a row. And 24, the age when you can take New York by storm, is the perfect time to do it. "Ah, but," says Mary-Kate, looking at Ashley with an old-soul smile, "we're 48."
the article is in the september 2010 issue...
I know Belinda in Australia had the mint cardigan...
Thanks Miss Famous. Unfortunately not in Australia and I wound up buying a mint green cardi from J.Crew since I couldn't find it. Wanted more of a boy cut like The Row one, but at least the color is good.
The Row has signed up none other than Tom Pecheux and MAC for its September 14 show, replacing Lancôme, which sponsored the Olsens’ runway debut last season. If precedent proves correct, the Tom + Ashley + Mary-Kate equation will likely produce some makeup magic.