The mood was set by endless muslin curtains that turned a gallery space in SoHo into a labyrinth of intimate chambers. The Row’s clothes are nothing if not intimate, feeling as luxe to the wearer as they look to the observer, without a trace of visual cacophony. In recent seasons, designers Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen have focused on intensifying their visual interest without sacrificing a bit of that intimacy and calm.
For spring, they delivered a study in grace. Their idea was to draw from “true American culture,” according to Mary-Kate, even if the first germ of an idea came from photos of white-clad Indian people during British colonial rule. “We wanted to focus on true American culture, which is about taking elements from different cultures all over the world and bringing them together.”
The two did so lightly, incorporating obvious global references without ever approaching that line where literal interpretation turns to irrevocable costume.
They opened with a pair of dark tailored looks and a black dress, passementerie and tassel belts the first discreet indications of the artisanal textures to come. These were followed by a group of russet dresses and skirts, some with intricately embroidered bodices, some in leaf prints and diamond jacquards.
There was endless layering, often in multiple whites, gorgeous in their controlled gauziness — lace dress over pants; poncho over dress; embroidered mesh over jersey. Some looks came swathed under macramé wraps; others were finished with floor-length veils. Throughout, huge, draped cross-body bags were integral to the silhouette.
For all their texture and artful pilings, the clothes retained the essential urbane chic that has made The Row resonate so powerfully with tony women who value chic over trends. Women, by the way, who will love the Olsens’ suggestion for footwear: simple loafers and mules, handmade by Enzo Bonafè.