The Row Pre-Fall 2012

I thought I was done and dusted with Pre-Fall but then Mary-Kate and Ashley went and did a wonderful thing with The Row. This is one of those collections in which you don't just admire the clothes, but want to be the women that these clothes will make you.

Definitely worth mentioning is the commendable colour palette. Varying shades of navy and burgundy is somewhat of a revelation, and to then to go and throw in some salmon pink - how unexpected! How exciting!

I've been thinking about them a lot lately, and I have a theory as to why The Row is just so successful. Ok so obviously the main reason is that the Olsen's are good designers, but I believe that part of their appeal is due to how serious they are. I don't mean that they are serious about their vocation as designers, but that the whole tone of the label is deadly serious, and seriously earnest. Just look at the photos above to start with. Instead of the generic look-book assembly of photos you usually get for pre-fall, here we are presented with "A Portrait of Women in Clothes". It is almost unimaginable that their models will ever jump on the latest trend for smiling and their runway shows are more than - the set design, lighting and styling elevate everything to more of "A Study in Taste".

The Row is sometimes compared to Celine for their elegant, intelligent take on 'clothes for the real woman', but while I can find Celine's pretentiousness irritating, with The Row it is wholly endearing. Maybe it's got something to do with the difference between New York and Paris. East of the Atlantic you have enough big houses pompously prancing around with their hundred years of history and archives and highfalutin' traditions - you don't get more serious than Paris and Celine doesn't help. New York on the other hand has carved out a completely different niche and it's all street savvy labels like Alexander Wang and Rag and Bone (clearly I'm omitting labels like Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta but I'm trying to form an argument here!) who carry with them a good sense of humour and large amounts of irony. There's not much solemn sincerity in NY, so The Row fill that gap nicely. And while it's easy to make fun of earnestness, at the same it can be totally refreshing.

I don't know if you guys know the band Xiu Xiu but they've got the same earnest thing going on. When they released Fabulous Muscles in 2004, Room on Fire had just been released a few months earlier and The Strokes were totally the rage. Back then everyone was digging this cool New York irony and laughing at Xiu Xiu lyrics like "I want you to like me". I was pretty impressionable at that time and assumed that The Strokes had the right idea and that Xiu Xiu were mildly embarrassing. But then a wise friend said something along the lines of "I would rather listen to someone earnest and sincere who commits completely than listen to some smug assholes who consist entirely of sickening levels of irony" . And that changed everything because I realised it was ok to care.

I will repeat this because it is important and everyone should always remember: it's ok to care.

And so bringing this back to The Row - they care, and that is cool. 

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