Olsen Twins talk Fashion

Via: The Seattle Times Company

Whatever your tabloid impressions are of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, there’s no denying that they’ve got some major fashion cred and serious business savvy.

In addition to launching their own clothing line for Walmart at age 10, the two have added couture line The Row, modern lifestyle brand Elizabeth and James and the casual, denim-focused TEXTILE Elizabeth and James line to their purported 100-million-dollar empire. A recent nomination from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for the Swarovski Awards, which recognizes emerging talent in womenswear, menswear, and accessory design, further strengthens their position among other American designers.

The Olsen twins were in Seattle on Thursday, April 8, for a private event to meet with and help style Nordstrom’s top Elizabeth and James and TEXTILE customers. And while I didn’t get a glimpse of those customers, based on the casual wearability of the lines, I’ll bet there are a lot of you out there.

Elizabeth and James and TEXTILE are both approachable and relatively affordable lines (compared to those of their colleagues) that, “seek to narrow the gap between designer and contemporary fashion,” according to the press material.

Nordstrom carries a nice selection of both, with Elizabeth and James filling more of the professional woman’s needs (blazers, blouses, fitted dresses and pumps), while TEXTILE is heavy on the denim, casual skirts, tees, “basically, what we like to wear on the weekends, when we’re not dressed up or at work,” explains Ashley.

This visit was the twins’ first trip to Seattle, although they’d been interested in visiting for years. “It’s so calm and green,” says Mary-Kate.

“The style here is so organic, down-to-earth and grounded,” adds Ashley. A notable difference, perhaps, from their glamorous, much-photographed lives in New York and Los Angeles.

Whenever I interview famous people, I’m always aware that regardless of how imaginative I think my questions may be, the celebrity has been asked the same thing (or a variation thereof) a million times before. The minute the words, “So, what’s behind the name Elizabeth and James?” escaped my lips, I knew I’d landed firmly in the, “Oh no, not this question again” territory. Regardless, I found their answer really interesting.

“Well, it’s the name of our siblings,” explains Ashley. “But it also refers to the heart of the brand,” Mary-Kate continues. “The duality of masculine and feminine, uptown and downtown.”

It’s a kind of yin/yang thing that is reflected in their collection. For example, contrast a very feminine, flowy sheer silk crepe blouse with delicate eyelets and bell-shaped sleeves against peep-toe suede stiletto booties with a prominent metallic chainmail accent.

Their answers to my final question, “who are your current style icons?” underscored that opposition in their creative expression of fashion. “I love Lauren Hutton,” offered Ashley, almost without missing a beat. “I think she is so chic and very natural.”

Mary-Kate, perhaps the more circumspect of the two, replied after a few moments, “I’m really inspired by men and how they can create a consistent style that lasts forever.”

Elizabeth and James and TEXTILE Elizabeth and James are available at the downtown Nordstrom and online, where there are some very cute styles on sale for up to 60 percent off.


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