Monday, 27 August 2018

"comfortable, chic and understated": an ode to the row

Spring 2015

In June this year The Row took home the Accessories Designer of the Year CFDA award. This is Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's most recent in a string of achievements at their label. This transition from child stars to top designers was carried out with the same seamless elegance that holds their collections together. Given the Olsens serious fashion credentials, the brand's rise to the top of America's fashion industry comes as no surprise. Being born in 1997, I have primarily associated the Olsen twins with fashion rather than their previous acting profession. That they have casually shrugged off their child star past in pursuit of building a fashion empire is no small feat.

The Full House stars grew up attending red carpet events in custom made Chanel and Marc Jacobs, cut down to child sizes. Bubblegum pinks and pastels gave way to all black ensembles as the twins reached their late-teens, graduating into the style they are known for today. Their personal style is clearly grunge inspired, but much more modernised and refined. From their ‘00s NYU days of venti Starbucks and boho chic to sweeping, gothic interpretations at the Met Gala each year, the Olsens embody cosmopolitan style. Often seen bundled in swathing black coats and oversized sunglasses, they emanate fashion with the poise of off-duty models. Their quintessential accessories? Takeaway coffee cups and cigarettes. Looks dominated by big coats and layered scarves were born out of their move from L.A. to New York and the newfound need to dress for the snow. The approach of Autumn is the perfect time for an ode to The Row, which preaches the appeal of layering all year round. Although the Olsens have no social media presence (that we know of), the paparazzis hounding of them means there are a multitude of photos documenting their style. For inspiration, I suggest Olsens Anonymous.

Spring 2016

Facing a fashion industry sceptical of celebrity designers, the Olsens’ initial ambition for The Row was to create the perfect white t-shirt; humble beginnings for the sophisticated super brand. Testing their designs on women of all body shapes aged 12 to 60, the twins proved that they were serious about fashion and technique, not simply superficial design. Arguably, the only other celebrity designer to gain such industry clout is Victoria Beckham. The difference being that Beckham designs under her own name. The Row offers the Olsens a small amount of anonymity. As 21st-century designers become more like celebrities, the Olsens have effectively attempted to take the opposite transition.

Fall 2018

The brand’s look is simple, but the designers take most of their inspiration from wider culture. Cinema, music and art all find a way onto their mood boards. The Olsens have cited Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Nick Cave, Georgia O’Keefe and Henri Matisse as starting points for collections. Another source of endless inspiration is the twins' collection of thirties vintage dresses, which they leant to Carey Mulligan for her audition for 
The Great Gatsby. Their admiration for classic beauty and elegance is reflected in the beautiful tailoring of each versatile piece.

Fall 2015

Its questionable whether The Row would be the brand it is without its celebrity credentials. However, there is no doubt that the clothes stand on their own. It combines Parisian classicism and Savile Row tailoring, with an authentically American twist. Principally attracting an audience of slightly older women, these are clothes that can take you from the office to the hippest new cocktail bar. The pieces may have luxury price tags, but it is possible to embody the Olsen/Row style on a budget. It is all about layering, monochrome colour schemes and, the most important ingredient, an attitude as cool as New York City in the snow.

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