Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s ‘discreet lives’ after Full House fame: the millionaire sisters on why they pivoted from Hollywood to fashion – interview

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen currently have relatively private lives. Photo: @MirrorCeleb/ Twitter
After a childhood in the public eye, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have shifted to fairly private lives.

Following their shared role as Michelle Tanner on Full House, the two had successful acting careers in their teen years. But they stepped away from the limelight after the late 2000s, which Mary-Kate Olsen credits in part due to the fact that they “were raised to be discreet people”.

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A still of ABC’s TV show Full House, in which twins sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen shared the role of Michelle Tanner (left). Photo: Handout

The twins, who turned 35 on Sunday, June 13, rarely give interviews (Mary-Kate Olsen warned they were “a bit out of practice”), but sat down with Vice’s i-D Magazine for a story to commemorate the 15th anniversary of their fashion brand, The Row. The New York Minute stars, who moved to The Big Apple together when they were 18, originally didn’t want to be the faces of their company, they told the publication.

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“We really didn’t want to be in front of it,” Ashley Olsen said. “We didn’t necessarily even want to let people know it was us, in a way. I mean, it was one of those things where it was really about the product, to the point where we’re like, ‘Who could we get to kind of front this so we don’t have to?’ I think, to this day, you’ll see we really put the product first.”

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in their Elizabeth and James label. Photo: @KALELAURENT/Twitter

She added: “What we did know was that we wanted to take that time to take a break from what we were previously doing and to explore things that interested us, and explore what life has to offer. We wanted to explore making something of ourselves.”

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In the past, the two have talked about their decision to quit acting. Mary-Kate Olsen told Allure magazine in 2013 that she is “not great at not being able to control the end product”.

Sisters Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen founded American luxury fashion design house The Row in 2006. Photo: Handout

Ashley Olsen agreed: “I was reading scripts and ultimately I just said to the people who were representing me, ‘I need to do things 100 per cent. I don’t feel like I can give you 100 per cent of my time,’” she said. “There’s a lot of compromise in the entertainment industry. I can’t sit in this room and audition for this part.”

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The Olsens’ pivot to the fashion industry seems to be well-received.

Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” in New York, US, in May 2018. Photo: Reuters

Over the years, their designs have been worn by many a superstar, from Angelina Jolie and Rihanna to Taylor Swift and Michelle Obama. And in the i-D story, they were praised by major stars including Zoe Kravitz, Gigi Hadid and Jonah Hill.

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“I think because they came from being kid stars – which I wouldn’t usually associate with great style – when they started dressing with incredible taste it was a bigger mind-blow for people because it shattered the image that people had of them in their minds,” Hill said.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in the movie Passport to Paris (1999). Photo: @thegoodbadbasic/Twitter

What’s next? The twins want to continue to “stay in control and do things at a time that feels right,” Ashley Olsen said.

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“I think we’re very much perfectionists and hard workers, and we’ve always been hard workers,” Mary-Kate Olsen added. “So I am happy that people look at it as a perfect product, or products that feel complete, or whole. I think the reason that we do fashion is to constantly try to fix our imperfections, and you always have next season to do that. It’s also our job to find every imperfection in there to make sure that we’re constantly pushing ourselves and training our eyes and making sure everyone is served. Just evolving and learning.”

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  • Celebrating the 15th anniversary of their luxury fashion brand The Row, the former child stars sat down for a rare interview
  • Celebs from Taylor Swift and Rihanna to Michelle Obama have worn their designs, while Gigi Hadid, Jonah Hill and Zoe Kravitz praised their sense of style