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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Talk John Galliano, Full-Fledged Runway Shows, and Twitter


>> Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
are wary of the press — and they keep their presentations for The Row very intimate, in part because, Ashley says, "I don’t like being around a lot of people." But they sat down with Style.com recently to talk lengthily about everything from Twitter to that moment when they first genuinely burst on the fashion scene — when they started going to NYU. Of that time, Ashley says of their highly-layered "bobo chic" looks: "That moment for us was us waking up, going to school, and not wanting anyone to take our picture. Kind of a piece of protection." And Mary-Kate adds: "For me, it was so cold, like the wind chill. How could you not put on 20 things when you’re going from Los Angeles to walking through the snow? . . . I think it was probably that. And laziness." More highlights from the interview, below.

On hanging out with other designers: A: "I mean, honestly, I don’t leave my house." MK: "We’re either here or at the house." A: "I’m friendly with a lot of people, but when it comes down to it, you won’t see me actually in that [scene]."

On joining Twitter: A: "That gives me so much anxiety." MK: "We’ve spent our whole lives trying to not let people have that accessibility, so it would go against everything we’ve done in our lives to not be in the public."

On doing a full runway show for The Row: A: "I really don’t like going to runway shows. I don’t like being around a lot of people, I don’t like being in crowds, so that’s another more personal part of it. It’s hard for me . . . [But] there are a couple of shows that I’ve been to that are just stunning . . . so if you’re going to the right thing at the right time, it can be fantastic." MK: "We just feel bad for all of you guys who have to schlep everywhere and then write your reviews in the car on a BlackBerry."

On selling one of their brands to a fashion conglomerate: A: "I think it depends on the brand. Right now we have no plans for anything. The main thing is we’re really focused on making the strongest brands we possibly can at the moment, and we’re just getting into accessories."

On why their Spring 2011 presentation for The Row got canceled and moved to Paris: A: "Samples were really delayed based off of new techniques we were using, and we decided instead of putting a halfway thing together and rushing through it, to move it, and we were fortunate to be able to move it to Paris. Thank God for our team. Everyone pulled together, and we were able to deliver a beautiful presentation in Paris . . ."

On the design process for The Row: A: "It all starts with the fabrics . . . Then we go into kind of silhouette development, so we start figuring out our silhouettes, what we’re liking, what we’re leaning towards, an evolution of the previous season, certain pieces, so it really starts with this stylized proportion. Then, through that process, we start our pattern making off the silhouettes that we’re liking and the consistent themes that we start finding, the shapes. So we start twisting the fabrics and then we start trying different fabrics and patterns. And once we have all the fabrics, we have about three weeks to produce the collection."

On The Row's brand consistency: MK: "If you go through our entire collection, you’ve seen it all before. Meaning, pieces repeat. That fur T-shirt, for example, that’s this T-shirt [points to plain one she’s wearing] from a couple of seasons ago, so it’s always consistent. It’s just about how we can evolve and also give the option to either buy this version or that version, creating a story."

On their long hours spent managing multiple brands: A: "I don’t think it’s the creative process that has ever gotten to us. More than anything, it’s about trying to find balance with work and how we can personally stay balanced while having our corporations grow, and I think that’s been the biggest thing that we are constantly aware of. We have to put boundaries on scheduling. We work crazy hours every week, so it’s been more about figuring out when we need to put our foot down. 'We can’t add this extra meeting. It’s one too many meetings in a day; push it later.' So it’s been about that. And with The Row, it’s about how to elevate the process with growth without putting too much on the overhead."

On being women designers: A: "I think the way being women has helped us in our designs is that we do a lot of research on what women like, what women don’t like."

On whether there will be more women designers in the future: A: "It doesn’t seem that way. Like when you look at the up-and-coming designers, there’s not a lot of women."

On John Galliano: A: “I think he’s an amazing designer.” MK: “I think he’s a brilliant designer.”

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