October 28, 2012

American Luxury

Some excerpts from the Wall Street Journal's recent piece on the Olsen twins, sent to me by a lovely friend who knows of and fully accepts my quiet girl crush on them…  x

"The photographer hasn't uttered a single word. She doesn't need to. The whole thing happens organically, seamlessly, without a wasted moment or modicum of tension - it may well be the fastest and least stressful photo shoot on record. When it's over, the Olsens ditch their well-worn Manolo Blahnik alligator Carolyne spikes for flats (Balenciaga loafers for Mary-Kate, suede Manolo sandals for Ashley), thank everyone politely and light up cigarettes."

"They began with a simple draped T-shirt and spent a year and a half learning about pattern-making, production and sampling. The first collection, presented in 2006, consisted of only seven pieces, including that first shirt, a pair of cotton sateen leggings and a cashmere tank dress.

Slowly, they added a blazer here, a stretch leather legging there - minimal silhouettes occasionally punctuated by spot-on adornments, like the perfect button or a textured stripe on a tuxedo pant. "We're constantly doing research on insanely small details," says Mary-Kate.

The goal was to create an ever-expanding group of trendless, often seasonless pieces that women could incorporate into their existing wardrobes and have them remain relevant. 

'We like the mentality of the way men dress,' says Ashley, who is wearing black-washed silk pants from four years ago and a top from their spring/summer 2013 collection. 'It's that thing about having a few very special investment pieces that you can wear all the time and build upon.'"

"Refined is the word that comes up most often in descriptions of The Row's clothes, in addition to 'minimal,' 'airy,' 'luxe' and 'serene'. More than one fashion editor has compared The Row to early Armani, with its emphasis on fabric and cut as well as its 'uniform' nature.

Interestingly, one of the words the designers themselves use is 'anonymous'. 'There's an anonymity to the clothes,' says Mary-Kate, but the word also applies to every other aspect of the line: The labels are minuscule metal bars (silver for resort; gold for every other season); their collections aren't presented on a star-studded runway, but in a series of intimate gatherings for the fashion press and buyers.

At their recent spring/summer show at the Carlyle hotel, silver baskets filled with pastries graced the tables while a lone guitarist was the only soundtrack. There are no backstage interviews or glitzy after-parties √† la Marc Jacobs or Diane von Furstenberg, nor do they reveal the names of their clients…


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