The Row has never been about trends or flash. Since the beginning, designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have telegraphed that message of simplicity through the clothes: gorgeous, streamlined pieces crafted from the most luxurious of fabrics. Dignified, is the word we would use.
And for pre-fall, things were as stripped down as usual, even more so, really. The inspiration was gardeners, and from the looks of things, these sophisticated horticulturists might reside somewhere in the English countryside. Gone were the graphic black-and-white pattern plays we saw for Spring 2014, as well as any forays into bolder colors, such as the rust they used for that outing. Instead, the sisters stuck to a mostly dark palette, and presented their signature languid silhouettes in a very straightforward manner -- not a lot of tricky proportion plays or fussy layering.
Standouts included spacious midi skirts, rendered in a gorgeous camel tone, simple men's shirting stripes, and even a buttery black leather. A clever touch came in the form of a built-in belt, taken straight from the pair's signature backpacks. These were styled in a look book starring Ursula Wallis, Esther de Jong and the fabulously gray-haired Linda Rodin (of Olio Lusso face oil fame), with double-faced cashmere trapeze coats and the most perfect cashmere cable knit sweaters, boasting just a touch of mohair for a cozy effect.
You could see the gardening references in a subtle plaid on the lapel of one such cashmere coat (this one wrapped), or in a jaunty brown check on an impeccably cut blazer. The theme was most pronounced in a floral pattern cut from three layers of chiffon, with handcrafted details to create the abstract, almost camouflage-looking print. Even then, the end result was very quiet -- understated and abstract.
Sure, there were showpieces here, such as silver fox fur coat that was as light as a feather, but even that was made to feel like a timeless standby you've had in your closet forever. But the real showpiece, in this context of elegant restraint (an anti-showpiece?), was a wonderfully roomy trench coat with bell sleeves and a fresh ankle-length hemline that looked both classic and intriguing. Even more utilitarian were the new "flap bags," as they've been named, which can be worn on the shoulder, as a clutch or -- wait for it -- as a fanny pack. But considering how the Olsens were among the first we saw sporting Birkenstocks, there might be legs to this style yet.
Click through to see the entire collection.