the Insiders


June 17, 2008 4:06 PM

Business, Fashion

Mary-Kate and Ashley: Just Don't Call Them Twins

/*photo styles */ .photo-left { width:200px; float:left; margin:4px; } .photo-right { width:200px; float:right; margin:4px; } .caption { font-size:10px;padding:2px; color:#999999; } I was surprised when Mary-Kate and Ashley's publicist had me get on the phone with both sisters separately about...

I was surprised when Mary-Kate and Ashley's publicist had me get on the phone with both sisters separately about their new jewelry line under the Elizabeth and James label. I figured one of them would be the mouthpiece for the ever-evolving Olsen brand. But in an effort to establish themselves as two distinct people (as opposed to our favorite pigtailed twins from the "Full House" days), Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's publicist wanted me to speak with each of them and asked that I not refer to them as "twins" or "sisters" in my story (WWD, Monday June 16, page 12).

I spoke first with Ashley at about 10 a.m. the morning after the CFDA Fashion Awards. Apparently she wasn't gallivanting around Bungalow 8 or the Beatrice Inn the night before. While I'm no stranger to interviewing celebrities on their latest accessory venture (as almost all of them have one), speaking with Ashley was more like chatting with the president of a business, which, I suppose, she is. It wasn't all about "inspiration" or any soul-searching banter -- we talked executive stuff: licensing, retail strategies and how the merchandising and branding business has changed since the Olsens launched Dualstar over 15 years ago. She talked about how she and Mary-Kate dress themselves, and in the past have taken a beating for it in the press. She sounded at times humble, mentioning all of the fashion superstars she had met the night before who have made an impact on her. Our conversation lasted about 25 minutes before someone on her public relations team jumped in asking, "Do you have all that you need?"

My conversation with Mary-Kate was shorter and a bit more frantic. She was speaking to me while driving through Los Angeles (in sky-high platform heels, I'm sure). She talked about going into Robert Lee Morris' studio and playing dress-up with his couture pieces from fashion shows he's done for Donna Karan and Karl Lagerfeld, among others. I asked her how she and Ashley differ in how they go about their work. She began by saying that they might approach something in different ways, but the end result is always the same. I asked her how she felt about fame. "I don't know how to answer that question." It wasn't long before someone cut in.

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