The chicer than chic Olsen twins have been gracing our fashion fantasies for 27 years. Endlessly embracing sleek complementary ensembles they have at some point made us all yearn for a duplicate we can dress in our likeness and go on overseas adventures for obscure and far-fetched reasons (i.e. Our Lips Are Sealed). But MK & A were more than just Michelle Tanner, cheesy TV movies or their cameo in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. The duo transitioned from Total Girl covers to Vogue editorial seamlessly with the blowing out of their 18th candles. For the Olsen twins legal status meant front row seating at fashion week and rubbing shoulders with Karl Lagerfeld, rather than the typical front and centre at the bar and rubbing other body parts with complete strangers. Since then the twins have undergone a Victoria Beckham-style metamorphosis out of their former showbiz careers and have soared into the leather-clad perma-pout stratosphere of fashion iconicity. A fashion brand as popular as Elizabeth and James or The Row at any age is a formidable achievement, let alone their 27 years.
Even in their preteen years MK & A were fashion forces to be reckoned with preempting and complementarily channeling the fashions that flood our stores, clothe our bodies and drain our bank accounts today. MK & A are to high street fashion what John Edwards is to dead relatives. The only true indicator of what will be fashionable next season is to reach back into the mid-90’s wardrobe of the world’s most iconic Gemini twins.
Like all of us the Olsen’s have suffered their share of fashion failings. But we can forgive the Mary-Kate hobo-chic era of 2005-08, the tartan pants in Winning London, and even the recent Vogue shoot where they wore pajamas while on stilts at the beach. Small exceptions that prove the ruling power of the MK & A fashion clairvoyance.
Thankfully the pair hit the money more often than not and their latest fashion ventures are more sophisticated than earlier collections attached to their name. Gratuitous anecdote: when I was nine I desperately wanted a crochet halter-top from the Mary-Kate and Ashley Target Collection. In my school the preferred literature was the latest Total Girl and preferred free dress clothing was anything Roxy or MK & A; therefore this crochet top was the physical manifestation of my potential future happiness. My mum refused to buy it for me as she firmly believes that halter tops lead to sunburn, sunburn leads to skin cancer, and skin cancer leads to death; thus I proceeded to visit my blue, crochet halter and stroke it in the Target kids section for months until it finally sold out.
Fashion’s favourite couple embody all that is a true trendsetter: someone who can take the ugliest thing in a room, drape it around their body, and make it look like ultra-ironic, Man Repeller style fashion statement. When Mary Kate and Ashley fashioned a clothes out of what appears to be a blanket crocheted by someone’s grandmother, nanna blanket fashion was born. Although the granny knit style has not been embraced in droves, a one-shoulder nanna blanket did feature in the Romance is Born Autumn/Winter collection in 2009, then strutted along the red carpet by Cate Blanchett a few months later. Mary-Kate even did a sly fashion nod to herself wearing a granny blanket scarf on the red carpet (I smell a winter trend).
However the Olsen sartorial predictions spread further than simple crochet coincidences. They were wearing overalls age five, Doc Martens with skirts age nine and flower headbands (nowadays seen on the heads of 98% of festival goers) consistently from age four to present day. Whilst psychic abilities are notoriously difficult to prove, we can all agree that the Olsen’s collective wardrobe is perhaps the world’s most accurate prediction of high street fashion next to whatever Alexa Chung is wearing. Even chunky sandals, that have flooded stores in recent months, were an Olsen staple circa 1995. By far their greatest moment arrived when they hit the fashion forecast trifecta of smock dresses, jelly sandals and peplum skirt: effectively looking like the ASOS daily edit 20 years before it was even conceived.
Coincidence? I think not.