It’s an unseasonably hot May in Los Angeles. The two block walk from my rental car to 8440 Melrose Place nearly melts me. I want to go swimming. Luckily, Mary-Kate and Ashley have a pool.
“May I?” I ask the first pleasant, demurely dressed staffer I see upon entering The Row’s two year old flagship store through the triple height (if you’re an Olsen) glass door. She smiles and motions towards a basket of plush towels situated next to the glistening water. “Go for it,” she dares.
But I baulk. I’m fresh off the plane from New York, I tell myself. My skin is the colour of alabaster. And besides, neither of the middle aged women perusing the beautiful wares on sale here would opt, if pressed, to watch me splash about in the courtyard like a fly in a martini. I decide to take a lap around the space instead, and let the air conditioning work its magic.
At a time when retail is withering like an uncared for houseplant, nothing is more refreshing than a store that makes one feel. The Row does this. And it’s not just the pool, or the glass walls, or the rotating lineup of Midcentury Holy Grails (all for sale) that grace its sparse, neutral hued, architect tweaked interiors. It is the fantasy; The Row is an exacting LA dream ushered in by the two girls who perhaps know it better than any.
“We wanted to create a space that ultimately reflected a way of life, that felt like a home,” says Ashley Olsen, almost obviously. Neil Diamond once owned the property where the store now sits. Then Sally Hershberger had her salon here – when the Olsens were little girls, they got their hair cut a few feet from where I’m now admiring a cognac suede handbag so perfect in its construction, it pains the eye. “When we saw the space come up for sale,” says Mary-Kate, “we had to have it. It was a part of our narrative, our history.”