Mary-kate & Ashley Olsen — The Row, Spring 2016
It may not always look like it from the pictures, but the traditional order and format of shows has been thrown up in the air over the past year. At the luxury level, innumerable houses have decided to break the system and show when, where, and how they choose in order to reach the women they most want to engage, which has sent guests off on many a globe-trotting trip in pursuit of the fashion “experience.” Now The Row has done the same, not showing in its hometown, New York, but shifting to Paris, where, as Mary-Kate Olsen explained, “many of our customers are, who we want to support. As you will see, tomorrow we are having a show in a château, 45 minutes outside Paris.”
Now, 45 minutes outside Paris, tantalizing as that sounds, does not fit the schedules of journalists who are doing the rounds of the shows every hour on the hour. So yesterday Mary-Kate and sister Ashley gave them a preview of what a more exclusive crowd will be seeing today.
It’s interesting to speculate how this collection will go down among a mixed European audience. In one way, The Row comes straight out of the American tradition of simplicity and pure lines, which goes back to the minimalism of the ’80s and, even further, to principles of usefulness that have roots in the pioneering spirit. Though the Olsens showed a couple of draped chiffon minidresses and a sheer pleated two-piece here, their natural design instinct is to stay far away from the body and keep any sense of sexual display under wraps (there was, literally, a linen blanket coat) and feet grounded in slides. In a way, they are passive resisters to the idea of trends and fashion—theirs is work that comes under the heading of “lifestyle,” and a luxuriously serene one, too. That’s the point at which the philosophy is likely to connect most easily with a certain French tradition that also fundamentally rejects nouveau display. The Row isn’t Hermès, but maybe the Olsens can persuade their Euro audience that they share the same kind of sensibilities.