New York latest: The Row

ELLE's view of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's autumn/winter 2012 collection for The Row...

After the presentation – 20 outfits as polished and luxurious as you would expect from the Olsen twins – it was time to shuffle backstage for ‘the quote’. It says a lot about The Row and its designers that this was not at all forthcoming. No well-rehearsed speech about the nature of luxury. No rattling off their inspirations. And no marketing-speak about secondary lines, accessories divisions or where they see their haute-label going in the future. Mary-Kate, all loose wavy hair and laughing, was surrounded by well-wishers. Ashley, hair scraped back, dressed in a beautifully cut black suit from the collection, stood to the side.


‘Hello, Ashley, congratulations. That was beautiful. Could I ask for a quote.’

‘Oh, no,’ she said, backing away slightly, ‘We’re not doing that.’

‘Well, would it be possible to know a bit more about the collection?’ I asked.

‘American women,’ she said, a little flustered, ‘Slim Keith… the elongated silhouette, we started off with the coat.’

It was when I suggested that The Row felt very different to celebrity labels of the past in that you could practically feel their hands on every garment, that her owl eyes widened in a kind of shocked bewilderment and she said, ‘Well… Yuh-eh!’


This was an honest answer. Because if anything is like, ‘Durr’ obvious when you see their clothes up close, it is that The Row is a proper passion, a quiet, credible label made with the utmost attention to detail.

Take the lambskin or cashmere coats that grazed the knee, the simple wide leg trousers with the odd tulle train attached, the ribbed cashmere jumpers, the mink. Or for evening, a white silk column dress with full floaty sleeves or a black, backless jumpsuit. At The Row nothing is over-designed. And nothing shouts.

Even the setting, The Carlyle Hotel, a bastion of old-school, uptown chic – where models drifted between tables set for high-tea – was a well thought out backdrop for their label. It was probably chosen as a venue because Slim Keith – the New York socialite and fashion icon of the 1950s, and Ashley and Marie-Kate’s inspiration, frequented the place. But who knows, Ashley wasn’t saying any more.

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