Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen are holding their course, even though most of the designers this season move towards a hedonist mode. Skimp is not in The Row’s vocabulary, and it isn’t likely to be in the future. None of us have been untouched by the pandemic, though, so how has the experience of lockdown changed the Olsens’ design POV and what does The Row’s take on re-emergence style look like? Something unexpected emerged most vividly midway through the lineup in the form of separates for women and men in shades of red and blue, the brightest colors ever to find their way into a collection from the Olsens, who prefer to work with neutrals and classic black and white. There were also the arty details here and there, like the delicate thread belt that accented the drawstring waist of a pair of casual pants or the fringed raw-edges of a fully knit skirt made with three different yarns. A few pieces were hand-painted, a nod, maybe, to the artists and art collectors that number among their clients. The accessories offering has expanded and there was a notable element of fun, as seen in the tiny card cases and coin purses suspended from belts and in the stretchy ankle boots that looked like a cross between scuba socks and wrestler shoes. Overall, the proportions are roomy and the silhouettes are layered – luxe comfort is the key. The Row fans will fall in love with a pair of pressed khakis whose low-slung, flared profile recalled the ’90s, and a jumpsuit with a tank top upper half that was the barest of all the looks assembled here. Pre- or post-pandemic, perfect essentials never go out of style.
Seeing both The Row womenswear and menswear in one collection makes so much sense. Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsens‘ autumn-winter 2021 collection is like the full picture of their luxe minimalism world, now shared by her and him. The designers decided to modify their showing schedule, skipping New York Fashion Week altogether and showing in January and June. One of the reasons is logistics and sustainability. Both the women’s and men’s collections are rooted in minimal tailoring and they share materials across them; these include the double-felted wool of outerwear, wool flannel for suits, and a textural knit that they call fur cashmere, all of them subtly luxurious. Of course, the collection is delightful – and feels like detoxicating palette cleanse after all the couture fantasy we’ve experienced last week. Their autumn suiting is strong across both genders. The women’s jackets come with removable shoulder pads, as does a mock-neck, midi-length cashmere dress. Alongside the tailoring, they showed wrapped shapes, emphasizing comfort and warmth. A male model looks practically cocooned in a three-piece fur cashmere set. Amid the oversized proportions and the swaddled forms, a button-down with short three-quarter-length sleeves worn with washed linen wool pants that taper at the ankles stands out. On the accessories front sturdy burnished-leather rain boots in a range of lengths look like top sellers in the making. They’ve also added a nylon tote to their handbag offering. Comfort and practicality have become important talking points in the last year as the pandemic has impacted the industry in so many ways. The Olsens are taking on those conversations – and the one about collection timing, too – but they’re doing so in their usual elegant, refined way.
“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.
The moment when The Row announced its menswear line, my heart skipped a beat. It was quite clear from the very first moment that the men’s wardrobe in Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen‘s viewpoint will be as refined as their women’s The Row. The look-book images that got released on the brand’s new website are even better than what you’ve been expecting. The idea behind the men’s The Row is deeply rooted in the label’s initial concept – and its actual name. The Row takes its name from the London street known for men’s tailoring, Savile Row, and from its inception the understated label has prided itself on its superior fabrics and exceptional craftsmanship. The collection showcases the designers’ signature ability to take classic styles and transform them into modern masterpieces via design nuances that make the brand so special. Ashley and Mary-Kate were inspired by men’s minimalist styles of the ‘80s and ‘90s in New York, elevated through traditional European hand-stitching techniques and Japanese construction. Black turtlenecks, crisp shirting, subtly tailored pants, dreamy coats… the price tags might be deadly (a camel coat 4,250 euros), but those are investment pieces. Real, and big, investments.