By Erika Harwood. Photos: Getty Images.
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen may be at the helm of their own fashion empire with their two luxury brands, The Row and Elizabeth and James, but back when they were trend-setting teens they got a lot of help from their stylist, Judy Swartz. Swartz, who now works as Melissa McCarthy’s stylist, recently spoke to Refinery29 about creating some of their more notable looks from the early aughts, including the Olsens’ oft-referenced boho-chic moments (no mention of their ubiquitous Starbucks coffee cups, though).
“Well, the layers came from me. It’s how I dress. It comes from my days of dressing rock stars,” she said, referring to the ultra-layered looks worn by the Olsens while studying at N.Y.U. “I’m pretty petite myself, and I just have always worn big, oversized things to cover myself up. I still do. I might wear a tight pair of jeans, but I’ve got a big baggy sweater on, and 50 layering pieces. I’m not surprised that layering moved forward with [Mary-Kate and Ashley’s] aesthetics, because it was such a big part of their style growing up.”
In a recent interview with Porter Magazine, the Olsens discussed the influence fashion had on them when they were growing up as actresses. “When we were younger, being in the public eye was almost part of our role and responsibility–to set the trends at that time or be ahead of fashion,” said Ashley, while Mary-Kate added, “We would take adult clothing and cut it down to our size, change the proportions. I think from a young age we understood fit in a very different way because we’re so petite.”
Schwartz echoed this to Refinery29, saying that she preferred to put the Olsens in tailored womenswear when they were younger, often seeking out clothes in smaller boutiques or high-end retailers like Barneys. “I had such a hard time finding clothes for them, because there wasn’t anything out there that I really wanted to put them in.”
She ended up leading the charge of the Olsens’ first foray into design, a clothing line sold at Walmart, perhaps planting the seed that would grow into the Olsens’ commitment to fashion. “I’m not surprised that they are as successful as they are: I mean, they have great taste,” Schwartz said. “They learned early on what a good design looks like and what people like to wear. They obviously took it a thousand steps forward into emulating what their brands are today.”
The Olsens still keep in touch with Schwartz, and even give her a “former stylist” discount when she shops at The Row, which luckily, she loves. “When I get dressed up at night, it's the first thing I’ll pull out.”
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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