Designer Dossier: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

Ever so quietly and with little fanfare, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of Elizabeth and James and The Row rewrite their stylish history.

Ever so quietly and with little fanfare, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of Elizabeth and James and The Row rewrite their stylish history.
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"Marie Claire"
Designer Dossier: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Few have defied expectations quite like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. With no formal design training, the former Kewpie child stars have evolved from simply inspiring the trends--they single-handedly defined the hobo street-chic of the early aughts--to creating them. By honing in on simple, sophisticated clothes with timeless appeal, they've all but erased their kiddie-star past from memory. As if the wild adoration (with sales to prove it) for their ultra-wearable Elizabeth and James collection weren't proof enough, the duo dispelled any doubts as to their credibility when they were named Womenswear Designer of the Year for their luxe line, The Row, at this year's prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards (the Oscars of fashion). Like the 26-year-old twins themselves, the two lines have a distinct point of view. Take a menswear-inspired coat, fall's key piece according to the sister designers: "The Elizabeth and James girl would wear it over a short, sexy dress," Ashley says. "The Row woman would wear it with tailored pans," Mary-Kate counters. Most of us desire to be both. After all, everything is better in pairs.
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Timeless Appeal
"Elizabeth and James fall 2012 collection was inspired by 1920s menswear meets boudoir. There's something playful about taking classic silhouettes and fabrics and putting them together in an unexpected way." -Mary-Kate Olsen
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Timeless Appeal
Elizabeth and James jacket, $995, shopbop.com.
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Timeless Appeal
Elizabeth and James bird cuff, $1950 at Mitchells; (203) 227-5165
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Timeless Appeal
"This season, we played a lot with rich textures, layering and striking a balance between masculine and feminine." -Mary-Kate Olsen
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Timeless Appeal
Elizabeth and James snake ring, $850 at Mitchells; (203) 227-5165
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Timeless Appeal
Elizabeth and James shirt, $295 at By George; (512) 472-5951.
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Timeless Appeal
Elizabeth and James shoe, $395; saksfifthavenue.com.
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Timeless Appeal
"For us, fashion starts and ends with fit, fabric, and attention to detail." -Ashley Olsen
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Timeless Appeal
The Row python clutch, price upon request at Barney's New York; (212) 826-8900.
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Timeless Appeal
The Row leather jacket, $2890 at Chalk Boutique; (847) 424-0011.
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Timeless Appeal
"The Row fall/winter 2012 collection is about the journey of a woman from day to night. It's meant to be slightly irreverent, playing with the idea of summer clothing in winter and daywear for evening." -Ashley Olsen
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Timeless Appeal
The Row top, price upon request at Barney's New York; (212) 826-8900
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Timeless Appeal
The Row pants, $2190 at Barney's New York; (212) 826-8900
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Timeless Appeal
The Row jacket, $2250 at A'maree's; (949) 642-4423.
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Timeless Appeal
"They're such cool chicks. I feel so lucky when I get to wear their clothes." -Olsen sister Elizabeth (namesake of Elizabeth and James, at left wearing The Row)
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