The Row: Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear: You Had to Be There

Stealth-wealth fashion queens Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen stoked controversy last week when they asked of The Row showgoers at Paris Fashion Week, “no photos, please.”

Several media outlets had a field day poring over the move as a f-you to the everywoman who has recently had a front-row seat to luxury fashion shows through social media photos and video, livestreaming, celebrity IG stories and more.

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But maybe the Olsens were suggesting something else — that the new definition of luxury is presence.

The show was held Wednesday at the usual luxe maison on Rue de Capucines in Paris, with the ravishing Rococo interior accented by modern art room screens that could have come out of the recent Fondazione Prada exhibition on the subject. IPhones were not confiscated, or taped over, and no one policed people taking photos or video. They were simply asked not to in favor of enjoying the moment.

A notebook and pencil were provided at every seat for recording thoughts and sketches, like we used to do in the old days.

Since the pandemic, fashion shows have become a circus of groupies with the kind of passion and excitement one would sooner expect to see at a Blackpink concert. The brands love it, of course, and sign celebrity ambassadors at a fast clip to drive the frenzy of fans who find out through social media accounts where their favorite stars are staying and going during fashion week so they can hang on the security barricades for a photo op or autograph — even in the pouring rain at Alexander McQueen this season.

The Olsens, who were at the center of the celebrity storm for all of their young lives as child stars, have crafted a brand that is more quiet and private, and wanted that for their show this season. And The Row is in the position, at least at the moment, of not needing the itinerant publicity from celebrity and social media coverage from inside their shows. They are not selling small leather goods, beauty products or sunglasses as the bulk of their business. They are selling uber luxury fashion, shoes and Margaux bags, which in some circles are the new Birkin.

Five days after The Row show, when the official photos were released, they were more elevated than in the past, and certainly more elevated than the snapshots taken on an iPhone. As is true in Hollywood, they had the luxury of controlling their image.

From my recollection and notes, the collection was gorgeous with a sense of historicism in feminine, sculptural volumes and eclectic collector touches like beaded toque hats, giant gold disc earrings and a big shearling with a red tipped sash belt. There was a surfeit of lovely outerwear that will cost as much as a small car, from the ladylike swing trench that opened the show to a beautifully wrapped chartreuse cape coat, and a gray trench with padded shoulders and softly ballooning back.

A mannish black double-breasted overcoat over striped bloomer pants and heeled sandals; a black pants suit with sneakers, and a brown double-layer raw edge jacket over slim pants offered a more tailored counterpoint. In the accessories department, in addition to pointy pumps with sheer black stockings, which was the main proposition, suede sock boots were a standout.

Not watching through a phone let the subtleties reveal themselves, like the soft bounce on a draped black plissé dress and the hanging threads on the hem of a black boucle gown. There seemed to be more of an emphasis on formal looks, including a pleated corset dress, and an ivory textured column sprouting feathers near the face.

Hollywood has become hip to the appeal of The Row this season; Greta Lee wore the label’s relaxed textured gown to the SAG Awards, and Ayo Edebiri chose a white suit by The Row for the Critics’ Choice Awards. The “It” girls’ choices felt exclusive and special, not transactional. Whether that is true or not (though I can’t imagine The Row paying), there is something to the idea of being a person who cannot be bought, of seeing something that cannot be shared in an instant.

Fittingly, the Olsens’ parting show gift this season was a box of Proustian madeleines, a reminder to savor the moment.

For more Paris Fashion Week reviews, click here.

Launch Gallery: The Row Fall 2024 Ready-to-Wear Collection

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