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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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When the idea of putting Ashley Olsen on our cover first came up, I didn't get it. I'd watched the sitcom Full House plenty of times, in which she and her sister collectively played a child with a curiously husky voice and a troll doll's waxy, wide-eyed look of wonderment, uttering punchlines they couldn't possibly have understood. Years later I grew vaguely aware that they'd become the joint face of a tentacular empire generating Gates-size dollars in the sale of tween merch, from dolls to toothpaste. Then came the countdown on various horny websites to the day the girls would turn 18, with its rancid intimations of a kind of gleeful, pop-culturally sanctioned pedophilia. Ashley and Mary-Kate were, after all, that fetishized thing, twins-tiny, hot fraternal ones who happened to look identical.

This was the dawn of their NYU years, and the endless tabloid shots of them skulking around the urban campus wearing floppy hats, goggle-like sunglasses, and willy-nilly layers of granny fabric. Were they daft? Incognito? As desperate and damaged as Paris and Co., with whom they were frequently linked in the gossip columns? They looked vulnerable. Spooked. Spooky. Just these odd, fragile little creatures.

So-an Olsen twin on our cover? Please. I figured Ashley for a Michael Jackson-style cautionary tale. I couldn't have been more wrong.

For starters, her aesthetic is genuine and formidable; she's the type who could fashion a dinner napkin into something worthy of couture in, like, nine seconds. That black mini she's wearing? It's actually a Wolford bodysuit pulled down — she shows me the strappy part tucked in around her waist, under her shirt. Many items in both The Row and Elizabeth and James are inspired by quirky pieces she or Mary-Kate found in places like the thrift stores of Paris. Funny how girls who became avatars of plasticky newness and youth are really quite old-school: Ashley's not computer-savvy, almost proudly so; she's a fan of rock veterans like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison; and she carries business cards around in a vintage cigarette case. To say the least, she and Mary-Kate have an eye. And a passion.

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