Inside the Mysterious and Glamorous World of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

By: BILLY NILLESMon., Feb. 11, 2019 2:10 PM

The Olsen twins haven’t appeared on-screen together in 15 years.

Independently, the sisters, who began their careers as actors while still in diapers before either could speak, haven’t turned in a performance in over five years, choosing instead to dive head-first, and rather magnificently, into the world of fashion. It’s a rare day when the pair agree to sit down for an interview; seeing them out in public is even rarer.

They announced their retirement from the world acting in early 2012 and have proven true to their word.

And yet, our fascination with Mary-Kate Olsenand her older-by-two-minutes fraternal twin Ashley Olsen remains as powerful as ever. But what is it about these two women who’ve by and large eschewed the spotlight in favor of leading relatively normal lives—well, as normal a life as one can live when they’ve routinely ranked on Forbes‘ list of America’s Wealthiest Celebrities since they were 16 and have an estimated combined net worth of around $300 million—that makes us desperate for every last detail of the lives they’ve decided they don’t really feel like sharing with us any longer?

It’s been 13 years since Mary-Kate and Ashley launched The Row, the luxury label that would become but a building block in the Olsen fashion empire. And even then, the former Full Housestars were hesitant to attach their unwanted celebrity—and its associated tabloid attention—to what was their true passion. They wouldn’t give an interview about the line for a full three years after its 2006 inception.

“We sold it at first with no label,” Mary-Kate admitted to Women’s Wear Daily in 2016. “Only certain people knew it was us behind it. We didn’t do any press. Our idea—because we had been in the branding industry for a very long time—was ‘If the product’s good, it will sell.'”

And it worked. In the 13 years since the launch, they’ve introduced three more lines, including the wildly popular Elizabeth and James. They’ve ventured into the world of accessories and fragrances. They’ve opened brick-and-mortar stores. They’ve been named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America—more than once. Quickly, they proved that this was no mere celebrity vanity project. They meant business.

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