Designers, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, grew up as actresses in the pop-television world and quickly distanced themselves from it as they grew into adulthood. The designers gravitated towards fashion and began developing lines of fashion as early as 18 years of age.
The fashion collections owned by the girls are a reflection of how they’ve grown as creative directors. Their first fashion line, Mary Kate and Ashley, targeted “tweens” in the commerical market. Following the success of the line the girls started a contemporary fashion line, Elizabeth & James, named after their younger sister. But their latest line, The Row, is their greatest tribute to fashion to date.
The Row, inspired by Saville Row in London, is their first high fashion line. It was initiated in 2006 with a capsule collection of 6 pieces in black and white. Unexpectedly, the “sell out” item from the early collections was the lambskin motorcycle pant which experimented with textile technology. The leather pant, embalmed with stretch technology, allowed for flexibility, as they were meant to appear more elegant than utilitarian. Although $1700 a pair, the pant proved itself popular and became a staple throughout the first few seasons of the girls’ collections.
But it wasn’t until the designers began to focus on accessories that we saw a distinct shift in the brand. Exotic skins were applied to backpacks and oversized bags. The luxurious skins were a first for The Row and were met with immediate success despite the 35,000 price tag. Other shapes soon followed, The Row luxury hand bags began to include more sleek and sophisticated offerings.
With the success of their luxury accessories line, the Row made a dramatic change to the womenswear line, which they revealed with their Fall 2014 collection. Cowl-neck cashmere sweaters and matching asymmetric hand-knit skirts in double-faced cashmere touted an uber lux flare that surprised the world.
The Spring 2015 collection shown the following season built upon this change in aesthetics.
The parade of ankle length gowns featured long swaths of fabric crisscrossed at the torso, twisted around the waistline of the dresses, and then trailed down the legs. The location, a raw, fifth-floor warehouse space in Soho, played a big part in setting the tone of the display, as a modern age of fashion.
And while other designers, too, changed direction towards luxurious gowns The Row took a gamble to distinguish itself by making a collection sans embellishment. This is a bold move in the face of Valentino and Givenchy, but it was the right choice. The Row silhouettes, no matter how traditional, maintain a modern edge in the luxury of the materials, the simplicity of the designs, and the monochrome pallets.
In recognition of their growth and individuality The Row received the coveted CFDA award in June 2015 for Womenswear Designer of the Year.
The Fall 2015 collection is another notch in their belt for what can only be seen as a lasting sign of modern heritage.