Tucked away on East 71st Street, just west of Madison Avenue, it would be easy to miss the new brownstone outpost of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s label The Row. But that's precisely the point: The newly renovated, 4,000-square-foot building aims to offer its clients an intimate, leisurely, familiar experience.
Sequestered from the bustle of the large avenue just feet away, The Row places a premium on exclusivity. At a preview Friday morning, an assortment of public relations representatives, The Row employees, and fashion editors occupied the shop’s three floors — and everyone knew each other. The two diminutive Olsens, clad in their own designs, held court on the ground floor, sipping coffee from white teacups as visitors stopped in to pay their respects. The crew of wait staff offering tiny blini with avocado cream and caviar might have outnumbered patrons; silver trays with pistachio macarons and Olsen-sized croissants and brioches lay on the carefully curated furniture that decorates the space.
And here, everything is for sale: With this new retail space, The Row posits itself as a lifestyle brand as much as a high-fashion label. In addition to The Row’s own designs and a few accessories and shoes by Oliver Peoples, Manolo Blahnik, and Charvet, the townhouse holds an array of furniture designed and curated by Jacques Grange. (Grange, everyone’s eager to point out, hasn’t worked on a retail space since he teamed up with Yves Saint Laurent in Paris.) On the walls, a few sketches by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, which shoppers can pick up as easily as they might a pair of The Row’s new royal blue velvet Mary-Janes.
Each floor is organized organically, with garments placed alongside accessories and home goods brushing up against footwear, but also with an eye towards consumer accessibility. Bags, shoes, and jewelry take up much of the first floor, immediately confronting the visitor on entry, because they’re the easiest items to buy. The second floor holds the bulk of the Pre-Fall collection, with a small alcove that’s been repurposed as a dressing room. Household goods and toiletries — including a selection of Serge Lutens perfumes, ceramics by Masa, and Santa Maria Novella apothecary creams — take up the upper floor, which can also be closed off for private fittings.
The Row’s west-coast flagship in Los Angeles was the prototype for the Olsens’ brand of all-inclusive shopping. Located inside a Melrose Place home that Neil Diamond and later Sally Hershberger at John Frieda salon both previously occupied, it features a glassed-in courtyard and a pool. And just as the Los Angeles space’s midcentury-modern décor reflects the aesthetic of the upper crust of west coast denizens, so the new Manhattan brownstone aims to mirror the lives of The Row’s New Yorker patrons. Maybe it’s easier to drop nearly $8,000 on a wool-and-fur vest if you can literally picture it in your own home. It could be entirely ridiculous — it takes itself so seriously — but the space is also extremely beautiful.
The Row UES has a similar pedigree — Japanese tea master So-Oku Sen once ran a tea room in the space (thus the green tea on offer on the third floor), and cult Japanese denim brand 45rpm (which still has an outpost, R by 45rpm, on Mercer Street in Soho) installed a stream that ran through the center of the ground floor, a detail that wouldn’t be totally out of place at The Row.
The Row at 71st Street opens Friday. You can look, you can touch, but you can’t live there.
The Row’s geometric, monochromatic Pre-Fall collection, an assortment of their own footwear designs alongside Manolos and Charvet slippers, home goods, art.
Though the shop just opened a week ago, early hits include a bomber jacket in scuba from Pre-Fall 2016, $890, and leather leggings, $2,090, that are reinvented each season.
A three-floor Upper East Side brownstone, whitewashed and filled with vintage and new furniture alike.
Pièce de résistance
An upper floor lined with select art by Basquiat and Haring.
Prices range from Oliver Peoples collaboration sunglasses, $450, to velvet Mary-Janes, $995; blue suede bindle, $1,190; and ivory cashmere sweater, $1,690.
17 E. 71st Street at Madison Avenue.