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.

By Katie L. Connor

August 28, 2012 1:00 PM

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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