The casual shopper, well-used to enticing window displays stacked high with product, is at risk of missing The Row’s recently opened London store entirely – such is the discreteness of the Annabelle Selldorf-designed space at 15 Carlos Place (captured here by Xavier Mas for AnOther) which was once an art gallery, and before that, a bank. Above the doorway – which opens to an orb-like light installation by prolific American artist James Turrell – hovers ‘The Row’, wrote in slim, barely perceptible gold letters. Tall windows allow only the briefest glimpse at the rails of clothes inside.
This is perhaps entirely the point. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the label’s founders, have built The Row on the seductive appeal of discreteness: they rarely give interviews, collections are presented to select gatherings of press and buyers, and the clothes themselves marry ascetic simplicity with hyper-luxurious fabrications. So much so, the quotidien elegance of The Row has found a legion of devoted followers, many of which work in the art world and, according to the sisters, are most often entirely unaware of the Olsens’ previous career as stratospherically successful child actors. “The Row truly becomes a life uniform,” Dean Mayo Davies recently wrote for AnOther. “Something beautiful you don’t have to think about, as your mind wanders elsewhere.”
Like their Los Angeles and New York outposts the idea is to evoke the warmth of a home – though likely not your own. Few people can boast a living room adorned with esoteric artworks, from a trio of Isamu Noguchi sculptures to John Chamberlain’s enormous crushed car, Funn, nor furniture from Le Corbusier or Charlotte Perriand, nor a rug by Jean Lurçat (nor, simply, 5,700 square feet of space, over two levels). Of this fact the Olsens are well aware: “This is more fantasy. This is a treat,” Mary-Kate told The New York Times on the opening of their similarly appointed New York store. “This is creating your ultimate world.”
The Row’s London store is open now at 15 Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2EY.