Inside the Mysterious and Glamorous World of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
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 Olsen and 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?
“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.
ETHAN JAMES GREEN FOR WSJ. MAGAZINE
They notoriously avoided the rise of social media and what a presence there might have to offer their brand—”We’ve spent our whole lives trying to not let people have that accessibility, so it would go against everything we’ve done in our lives to not be in the public,” Mary-Kate told Vogue in 2011—and they’re hesitant to post for the camera in any official way any longer. “We’re used to being on the other side of the camera and managing the process, so it’s hard for us to do photoshoots now,” Mary-Kate explained to Net-a-Porter’s The Edit in 2017. “That’s why you have models.”
Instead, they’ve chosen to focus on the work. Almost meticulously so. As Ashley told WSJ Magazine last August ahead of the launch of The Row’s first full menswear collection, they once spent one full year “really figuring out the fit of the suit,” determining the difference a slightly higher rise on men’s pants makes. “We’re talking millimeters,” Mary-Kate explained.
As they’ve explained, their days are meticulously mapped out—”We’re very organized; every minute is accounted for,” Mary-Kate told The Edit—and their wary of trying to do too much at once. “We like having success with one thing before we move on to the next,” Ashley told WWD. “We don’t like to spread ourselves too thin.”
“They are very involved and hands-on with their companies,” an insider told E! News. “They work every day. They have an office in New York that they both go to and they attend meetings and conferences all the time.”
“You heard it from me first: They will never come back!” Cameron Bure told Us Weekly at the 2019 Movieguide Awards in Hollywood in early February. “They are never coming back on the show! They don’t want to be on the show. The answer’s no!”
While their steadfast dedication to their fashion empire may seem, at times, obsessive—”I’ve always been a worker. It has taken me a lot to figure out how to take a vacation,” Ashley told The Edit—that doesn’t mean they haven’t managed to find a balance. As Mary-Kate, who’s been happily married to French financier Oliver Sarkozy a little over three years now, acting as step-mom to his teenage children Julien and Margot, admitted in that same interview, its her home life that offers her an escape.
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She and Sarkozy share a $13.5 million townhouse in NYC and can often be spotted courtside at a Knicks game or at a high-society event when they’re not at their Paris residence. But more often than not, she and her sister, who owns her own condo in downtown NYC and has seemingly been single since splitting with a financier beau of her own, Richard Sachs, in 2017, prefer to limit their socializing to places where the public can’t serve as witness.
“At night they have a lot of dinner parties at home, or they go out to eat,” our insider told us. “They both love music and will go to concerts or to Knicks basketball games, but mostly its dinner parties with friends at home.”
“It’s been 32 years of learning how to communicate,” Ashley shared, adding that their relationship is “a marriage and a partnership. We have had ups and downs. We do everything together.”
Mary-Kate added, “We came out of the womb doing that.”
And while they’re not “together every day, probably from 9 a.m. till 12 at night, sometimes earlier,” as Ashley admitted they once were on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in 2010—marriage and Ashley’s long-rumored permanent return to their birthplace, California, will do that to ya—there’s certainly no reason to expect that this fruitful partnership will ever come to an end. “They see each other every day,” our insider insisted “and, if not, they talk multiple times a day.”
Over a billion dollars in sales later, who are we to argue?