Once again, exquisite. The fact that Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, who have embodied “cool” at least since early adolescence, don’t aspire to said classification as fashion designers sets them apart from many of their contemporaries working today. That point of departure is dazzling — that is, if clothes and the women who wear them can dazzle with subtlety and grace.
The designers presented their fall collection for The Row in a light, airy town house on the Upper East Side, its back-in-time elegance perhaps a nod toward the Edwardian inspiration. Not being costume-drama kinds of girls, the two trod lightly with the motif, incorporating the kind of rich details that take the yawn out of a classic — a double jabot on a crepe de chine blouse, a precisely proportioned mink collar on a coat.
They opened with outerwear inviting enough to make crummy weather feel like a perk, starting with a spectacular twosome, coats worn one over the other, black bonded silk-wool felt over green wool. The layering didn’t stop there; pants were cropped just short enough for a minimalist display of leggings.
After a dark — but not somber — start, in came the light in pale gold brocades and glorious whites, their elaborate surface textures revealing a subtle Eastern influence. Case in point: an utterly simple dress in an intricate silk jacquard and a top in the same fabric, this time exquisitely embroidered.
Save for the occasional bauble by Sidney Garber’s Brooke Neidich and several fabulous handbags, the Olsens took a less-is-more approach to styling. Their discretion, however, stopped at the feet, a-froth in densely ruffled, kitten-heeled mules. Particularly in red, they channeled Barbie channeling Frederick’s of Hollywood. As for The Row’s ever-growing fan base, even the most elegant of ladies like their chic with a shot of fun.