Entertainment & Arts

Olsen twins Mary-Kate, Ashley talk ‘Full House’ fashion influence

Olsen twins: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Olsen twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen talk about how “Full House” jump-started their fashion careers.
(Net-A-Porter / The Edit)

The Olsen twins have made a new name for themselves in the fashion industry with their luxury brand the Row, but Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen actually sashayed into the world of fashion at a much earlier age when they donned designer duds on the set of their hit sitcom, “Full House.”

The fiercely private twosome explained to Net-A-Porter magazine the Edit that their start in the industry coincided with their acting career while the pair alternated playing Michelle Tanner, the youngest daughter of the Tanner family when the now-syndicated comedy aired from 1987 to 1995. They were 9 months old when they were cast, allegedly because they didn’t cry when a TV exec carried them.

On “Full House” “we’d be in six-hour fittings three times a week, because we had to wear 12 different outfits,” Ashley told the mag.

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Wardrobe pieces came from Chanel and Marc Jacobs’ adult lines and were cut to fit the tiny actresses. Très chic, dude.

“We were designing clothes for ourselves as we were so petite,” Mary-Kate added. “So I think that is when we became obsessed with fit, and now the obsession has become a profession.”

The 27-year-old “Full House” stars went on star in their own films, turning the Olsen twins into a franchise, and became executives at the production company Dualstar. They haven’t provided as much tabloid fodder as their contemporaries, save for Mary-Kate’s connection to the death of actor and friend Heath Ledger in 2008 and her current relationship with Olivier Sarkozy, who is 17 years older than she is and the half brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Though they grew up in the spotlight, they stepped away from acting and worked to redefine cool in the fashion arena. However, their younger sister Elizabeth Olsen is carving out a career for herself these days with starring roles in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Very Good Girls” and “Kill Your Darlings.”


But the twin California natives have looked east, moving to New York in 2004 and inadvertently helping revive grunge chic with their layered “hobo” ensembles. Apparently, their seemingly haphazard looks came simply as a reaction to the East Coast’s cold weather, the mag reported.

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Now they’re making a name for themselves in the fashion industry as “proper” designers rather than being relegated to being called “celebrity designers,” and it seems to be working. In 2012, the sisters won the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s honor of Womenswear Designers of the Year for their work on the the Row, which Mary-Kate said “they’re really focused on ... at the moment.”

“Anonymity is a word we talk about all the time in life and in clothes,” Ashley said.

“We were 9 months old when we started, so fame has always been part of our lives. There wasn’t any weirdness where we decided that we wanted to be famous,” she added. “Then as we got older, we were very fortunate that we could hire and work with amazing people who want to protect us.”

As for their design aesthetic, it came from a 2006 excursion to find the perfect T-shirt, one made of great fabric with great fit, the mag said. That evolved into a brand of luxury basics with 23 collections under their proverbial belts and a Manhattan atelier that employs 60 people. They also work on other brands of their own: Elizabeth and James, Olsenboye and StyleMint.

“We saw a space in the market,” Ashley said. “We knew there wasn’t another brand offering basics in a luxurious and contemporary way. If I wear certain designer brands, or too much of something, I look crazy, and I need something to break it up. If you are wearing a Chanel jacket and you need an anonymous piece that will show just how special that jacket is, I hope that is what the Row gives you.”



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