Monumental Lightness. The Row AW20

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In the sea of meaningless or overly sophisticated (which, in the end, means the same as meaningless…) collections in New York this season, The Row stuns with confidence and actual sense of real desire put upon us, the viewers. As the models skimmed quickly by in flat slippers and boots, the thrill behind Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s line-up was in the finesse of the cuts, precise but relaxed, especially with the addition of turtlenecks layered under silk button-downs or worn solo under jackets. The tailoring is refined and subtle in shilhouette, and the outerwear is a sure winner of the season. It’s quite clear that the designers looked at Martin Margiela’s Hermès for inspiration – especially the layered knits and long, grey gloves that seemed to blur with the clothes. But I’m fine with that. An installation of sculptures by Beverly Pepper, an American artist who worked in stone, corten steel, and iron until she was 97, was the centerpiece at The Row’s show. Pepper died just last week, and the New York Times’s obituary described her as a “sculptor of monumental lightness.” The Olsens’ work definitely identifies with that description.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Refined Classics. The Row Pre-Fall 2020

We try to be thoughtful. It’s everything for every day. There aren’t really tricks,” said Mary-Kate Olsen during The Row‘s pre-fall 2020 presentation in Paris. She and her sister, Ashley, keep on impressing the industry with their sublime, refined, minimalist, yet soft take on everyday classics. There’s an American tradition behind this: The Row stands on the shoulders of what Donna Karan did for second-wave feminist aspirers to boardrooms in the 1980s, and what Calvin Klein contributed to New York minimalism in the 1990s. Add quality that will last for years and years to come, and here’s The Row that keeps on pushing envelope in terms of the luxurious simplicity. The pre-fall line-up is filled with well-cut peacoats and silk robes, as well as business-ready offering: perfect midi pencil skirt with a matching a shirt in the same fabric or fluid trousers and a double-breasted jacket in the creamiest shade of ecru. Delightful.

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

The 2010s / The Row’s Minimalism

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

The Row‘s minimalism.

Looking back at the 2010s, it seems to me that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are the ultimate owners of minimalism. With their sensivity for top knotch quality and craftsmanship, it’s no surprise that The Row is globally renowned among the richest women who, rather than drown in Gucci, have similar preference for clean lines, the comfort of soft cashmere and well, have nowhere else to go since Phoebe Philo left Céline (ok, there’s Lemaire, Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta, but… still, they choose The Row). Their collections don’t surprise, but warm your heart. Coats of the most perfect volume and silhouette. An over-sized ecru turtleneck-dress from the best alpaca yarn you can imagine. Masculine tailoring, beauutifully sculpted at the waist. Timeless, crisp shirting that’s getting better and better while wearing it. Eveningwear that’s pure refiniment and elegance without even one embroidery or print. You don’t expect newness with The Row, except for some unexpected lining detail or an antique embellishment on the bags – so, basically details you will notice only when the clothes arrive on the rack. Other than incredible collections the Olsens staged in New York (and in a French chateau that’s 45 minutes outside Paris back in 2015), the sisters created some of the most beautiful retail spaces (see them here) and an equally magnificent menswear line.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Expensive Simplicity. The Row SS20

There’s no need in explaining why The Row is one of New York’s most luxurious brands – existing and thriving. And also, once seeing a The Row shirt in rwal life, you immediately understand its cosmic price. It’s crisp, but not stiff, it’s over-sized, but not slouchy. Even it’s white colour isn’t just white. It’s the shade of white that will match everything. Knowing that, you can forgive Ashley and Mary Kate-Olsen‘s lack of Instagrammable entertainment during their spring-summer 2020 fashion show. A minimal space, and the clothes as the main heros. The look feauturing a lilac shirt and beige pants caused more discussions than the most intricately embroidered dress or the most controversial fashion statement from any other brand we’ve seen this season. While some might say this collection felt distant and lacked spirit, I think its minimalism was finally soft – something I kind of missed from the Olsens in their last collections. This is the collection Carolyn Bessette Kennedy would wear forever. It’s a wardrobe of investment pieces – which, to a great extent is sustainable fashion without being mad about. Whether speaking of the ecru dress made out of cloudy, silk patches, or the ankle-lenght black coat that has the perfectly chic shoulders volume, The Row nails expensive simplicity like no other.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Row Stores

There’s quite a lot of The Row on the journal this week. Blame it on Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen‘s universe, which is so, so… perfect. Their Los Angeles and New York stores aren’t any news, but posting about them is pure pleasure. Getting the details right is pretty much a full-time occupation for the Olsens. You know that from seeing their collections, for both, women and men. You realize it even more once you see (or are lucky enough to visit) their store interiors. In Los Angeles, the space unfolds at ground level in a personal, quiet way, where one minute you can’t tear your eyes away from a cashmere robe, only to have some exquisite chair begging for your attention the next. As Ashley put it in her own words for Vogue, “in Los Angeles, it’s all about mid-century homes and growing up, it was glass and water and trees.” They opened their second store in New York, the city where the designers are based. Having lived in New York now for 12 years, the Olsens wanted the store to very much feel like a home. Located in a townhouse, with a Jean Michel Basquiat canvas on the wall for instance, it’s a sort of dream-house filled with the finest garments. Induldge yourself in all this The Row goodness by scrolling down to the stores’ images…

8440 Melrose Place / Los Angeles

17 East 71st Street / New York

All photos courtesy of The Row.