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.
The Row‘s autumn-winter 2020 collection is a line-up you want to return to once in a while. Especially, when it’s getting colder outside. 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 years for inspiration – especially the layered knits and long, grey gloves that seemed to blur with the clothes. But I’m fine with that.
In tough times, you can’t go wrong with picking the most classic of the classics. The Row is an example: Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen‘s spring-summer 2021 line-up is all about their brand’s ultimate core, which is comfort, quality and understated luxury. The Row has always been a go-to label for women who favor discretion over bold display. This season finds the designers working especially within their minimalist framework, pushing new cuts and trying out unique materials. The suit of the season is oversized and mannish, with a double-breasted jacket worn over full pleated pants. Emphasizing ease and wearabiluty, they did a similar silhouette in knit. A V-neck vest makes multiple appearances in the look book, worn solo with a midi-skirt or teamed with a crisp white shirt and trousers. The palette is mostly monochrome neutrals, though there were two flashes of color in the form of button-downs in teal and rust. How about handspun organic silk made in single batches in Japan, which is exclusive to The Row this year? The white and black knit dresses they made with that silk are a sexy, body-limning counterpoint to the relaxed shapes of much of the rest of the collection. There is news in accessories. A 105 mm French heel pump counts as The Row’s highest ever, and a new Massimo drawstring backpack comes in that raw silk, as well as leather and suede. Naturally, there’s no logo-ing or hardware in sight. Timeless, investment pieces that will serve and please for years to come.
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.
“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.