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August 8, 2007

Ashley Olsen: The Coolest Girl in the World

ashley olsen

Ashley Olsen

Photo Credit: Ruven Afanador

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The gaze from Ashley's melancholy gray eyes cuts to the phone as one of her publicists runs through the list of press requests. "If we're talking about another photo shoot, I'm out," she says, playing with her rings-a diamond-studded silver skull and the Fred Leighton wedding ring from the movie Marie Antoinette that she wears on her index finger, a birthday gift from Mary-Kate. "I can't do it. We don't want to be out there too much at once. And I know you guys will all beg to differ, but that's how I feel."

Ashley's voice is small-almost squeaky-yet it slices through the chatter like steel. At 21, she is a remarkably clear and focused executive, not at all the type to be talked into things, particularly when they involve public appearances. Before the conference call, Ashley was playing with her brand-new BlackBerry when she suddenly stiffened, realizing it had a built-in camera. "I hate camera phones," she said. "They make me anxious." If one were to think a lifetime of lenses in her face had inured her to them, one would be wrong.

After several back-and-forths, the team in New York signs off, at which point Ashley stands, laces her childlike fingers, and gives them a stretch, palms out, until they crack. "Not a good way to start the day," she says with an exhausted smile and a shimmy of her haunches as she tugs her skirt into place. "Fifteen women on the phone at once. Jesus!"

She settles into another office where her colleague Tiffany Bensley wants to show her some fabric samples. "This one is dope," Ashley says dreamily, running her finger over a smoky-hued square of rabbit fur. Then she lays a lambskin across her lap and tests its stretchiness. "I want to see the belly because I think it would look great across the back of the jacket."

Bensley presents her with a design for the label that will be sewn into the clothes for The Row. Examining it, Ashley says the dimensions should be reduced by 30 percent. Then Bensley offers a swatch of suede with an ingeniously fringed surface. Ashley lunges for it, buries her face in it. Rapture. "This would make the sickest jacket," she says, wrapping the piece around her arm. "Mary-Kate is gonna shit herself when she sees this."

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