We first sang the praises of The Row back in February during the AW 2015 ready-to-wear collections. The designers and former child stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen stunned fashion journos and socialites with their cozy and elegant pieces. Not since Raf Simons’ Jil Sander and Phoebe Philo’s Céline has understated refinement been so powerful.
Of course there was a sense from the beginning of the twins’ fashion careers that they were much more than your cookie cutter celebrity designer. Launching The Row in 2006 and the contemporary clothing line Elizabeth and James in 2007, the twins’ success has been driven by Ashley’s business acumen and Mary-Kate’s creativity and eye for modern designs. In 2011 the Olsens also branched out into members-only e-commerce with Stylemint.com. Much like 90s’ mail order book clubs and American Girl doll clubs, subscribers get exclusive dibs on new items monthly at budget friendly prices. In the case of Stylemint, items include T-shirts and other basics, all designed by Mary-Kate and Ashley.
Judging by the sisters’ creative output across all three of their clothing lines, it’s clear that they’re obsessed with elevating the often-forgotten basic. In an industry that has a tendency to favour showstopping maximalism over simplicity, it’s easy to see why perfecting a T-shirt or trousers might seem like a dull and fruitless endeavour. Not so for the Olsens. More than anything, luxury for the Olsens is defined by quality and timelessness, and probably comfort too. This means The Row’s Resort 2015 collection is full of sumptuous fabrics like wool, linen, mohair, and cashmere, cut in easy-to-wear and feminine (but not girly) silhouettes. Waists are cinched to emphasize the female shape, but done so nonchalantly with bathrobe-like sashes as opposed to their uptight cousin, the structured belt. Footwear is kept classic, while the below-the-knee hemline is modest by most women’s standards. More than being timeless, these garments and their hemlines are also ageless, appealing to a broad range of generations. On first look, you probably wouldn’t wear these pieces on your next Tinder mission, but I’m arguing that you should. As covered-up as the ensembles are, there’s no denying how beautiful they make the female body look.
Damn, The Row gave slouch some grace. Unsurprising given the designers’ predilection for the silhouette. What are the Olsen’s known for if not their brand of frumpy elegance? More than 6 years into their design partnership, the sisters seem to have returned to their roots, turning desire into action. They started attracting attention cloaking their bodies in layers on the street and have managed to shape their line into a digestible reflection of that personal aesthetic. Their designs are charismatic and it’s safe to say their presence in the fashion world doesn’t have to be so tightly calculated anymore. The monastic slouchy knit overflowed in New York and London from Edun’s stunning use of texture to Jason Wu, Paul Smith and Rachel Comey.