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August 8, 2007

Ashley Olsen: The Coolest Girl in the World

She's been a star — and an utter mystery — since babyhood. As Ashley Olsen puts the finishing touches on her new clothing line, she gives Marie Claire unprecedented access and reveals a surprising new side.

ashley olsen in white dress on car

Photo Credit: Ruven Afanador

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As I prepare for my meeting with Ashley Olsen at the Culver City offices of Dualstar Entertainment, the billion-dollar company she runs with her sister Mary-Kate, I get a call from one of her people confirming the plan. "Oh," the person says, "and Ashley wonders if you want a Starbucks?"

I cannot tell if this is high wit on Olsen's part; surely she must know that the image of her carrying around a massive Venti has achieved iconic significance in the culture. She is, after all, a very famous person, someone we've known virtually all her life, who nonetheless has maintained a bubble of mystique around her — what, beyond the caffeine fixation, do we really know about Ashley Olsen?

For one, I thought I knew her to be an eccentric dresser, a child of fame so intent on hiding in plain sight, she'd wear eight crazy layers where a simple cardigan would suffice. So when we finally meet at her serene corporate headquarters (candles burning in one office, a Buddha statue in the hall), I'm surprised to find Olsen looking the epitome of chic, swaddled in a sheer white tee (black bra visible) under a chocolate-brown leather jacket, a stretchy black mini outlining her curvy butt, and a black patent-leather Alaia belt shaped like bat wings, cinching her like a wasp. Her perfectly turned, tan legs resolve in a pair of sky-high Louboutin pumps. And on her arm, a vintage Fendi bag she could probably fit inside. "The next one I want to get is the crocodile Birkin, but that won't be for a while. Crocodile is my fa-vorite!" she says, quietly singsonging that last word.

Ashley climbs into a swivel chair behind a big desk and gets on a conference call with her publicity team in New York, which is chiefly concerned with rolling out the second season of the Olsens' upscale clothing line, The Row, and the debut of their contemporary collection, Elizabeth and James, so named for their siblings. Samples from The Row had been sent to Lauren Hutton; apparently, someone says, she loved them so much she slept in them. "Yeah, she told me," Ashley says, pulling at her streaky blonde bangs, examining the ends. "She was at the top of my list from the very beginning of who I'd want to be seen in it."

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