Once again Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen showed their latest collection for The Row at their Greenwich Street studio, a stark white space unadorned except for the two monastic benches which ran the length of the room and the handsome bunch of waiters who served coffee poured into earthy cream ceramic tumblers. (I could wax lyrical about the lofty, zen-like qualities of those cups for aaaaages, but I won’t, you’ll be thrilled to know.) The calm and clean rigor of the venue only served to focus the mind on the clothes; if there was any distraction going on, you could only level that accusation against the show’s soul soundtrack, but then again, that was totally brilliant, and toes were merrily tapped away as the terrific clothes came slowly and purposefully walking by.
Slow and purposeful could also be the mantra of what the Olsens showed. If you usually love what they do—and really, name me someone who doesn’t; I’ll wait—then there was plenty of comforting familiarity here with just enough newness to make you reexamine in a fresh light The Row’s stock in trade, which is the ne plus ultra rendering of the ideal, timeless wardrobe. For next Spring, that meant they aligned their reductive tendencies—minimalist black jackets and lean-ish pants galore, perfection in tailored form and now leavened with a fresh athletic twist of zippered fastenings, pannier pockets, and substantial, strapped-leather Tevas—with some of their more whimsical yearnings. Those took the form of petal-light floral cutouts, in organza or velvet, embellishing several of their closing looks; they were particularly good on a corset-close sculpted black top and a pair of equally noirish cropped wide trousers, worn rather insouciantly with an untucked crisp cotton shirt as blue as the sky on a perfect New York September day.