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  • L-R: Mary-Kate wears cape, pants and blouse by The Row. Ashley wears sweater and pants by The Row; earrings by Ana Khouri

    There is something elegantly old fashioned about The Row’s show in New York. Old fashioned, and for that, completely contemporary. There is no scrum to get in; no photographers (runway shots are taken before anyone arrives); no A-listers; no brand encouragement to Tweet, Instagram or Vine; and every seat is a front-row seat. Models walk slowly, reminiscent of an old-school Parisian couture show, as the designer sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen sit with their audience watching their work come to life. “If people are coming to see our collection,” Ashley says later, “we want them to actually see the collection.” The civilized set-up makes everyone feel like they are part of the in-crowd; like they have spent intimate time in the world of

    “ANONYMITY is a WORD we talk about all the time, in life and in CLOTHES”

    the Olsens: icons, power players and yet, total enigmas.

    At 27, the sisters have been famous since they were both cast to play Michelle Tanner in the US sitcom Full House at just nine months old – allegedly due to neither crying when being held by a television executive. They are TV veterans, movie stars, executives of production company Dualstar, and fashion designers with over six-million internet pages dedicated to them, and yet they have never really revealed much about themselves. We have the bare facts: they are fraternal twins, born and raised in California with older brother Trent, an artist, little sister Elizabeth, an actress, and two step-siblings; Ashley is a leftie, Mary-Kate a rightie (hands, not politics); Ashley is 5ft 1in, Mary-Kate is 5ft; and they are both fascinated with fashion. Beyond that, there has been much rumored, little substantiated. It is clothing – their own labels and their style – that reveals the most.

    “Anonymity is a word we talk about all the time,” says Ashley

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