Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen picked up the CFDA’s Womenswear Designer award for the second time in three years last week. If they owe the first nod in 2012 at least in part to the novelty factor of being child stars-turned-legit designers, this year’s award is a testament to their staying power. The Olsens are seriously ambitious about their brand and they’ve got a point of view to match. A serene, clean balance between structure and fluid lines, it hasn’t shifted significantly from their first runway show back in 2010. Resort, as usual, is very much an evolution of what we saw for Fall. A slightly more utilitarian bent came across in the quartet of pockets that adorned well-tailored jackets and the sturdy belts that cinched them. But for every utilitarian touch, there was another something or other that conjured a more leisurely attitude. Take the black trapeze-shaped gown that closed the show, for example. It would’ve been almost regal if it had been in a more sumptuous fabric.
«Well-balanced» is the term Mary-Kate used to describe the new season, pointing out that the collection is very much customer-focused. Come November, when these clothes arrive in stores, The Row client might be tempted by a shearling duster, or any number of other coats with the built-in ease of bathrobes. Then again, she might prefer the stronger lines of a double-breasted pantsuit in a deep shade of spruce green. Maybe she’ll like both and toss an unstructured coat over that suit as the sisters did in the showroom this morning. If she’s after any kind of embellishment, she’ll have to turn to their new Duplex tote, one of which was adorned all over with beads in a wallpaper
floral pattern. At times you wanted a bit more of that bag’s subtle pizzazz to rub off on the clothes, which were as quiet (and quietly luxurious) as they come. Still, there’s no disputing the fineness of what the Olsens are doing.