Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Influence by Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen

     During the March 2011 CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) nominations, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were nominated for the Swarovski Award for Womenswear for their designs in their fashion collections like The Row [their luxury bran],  Elizabeth and James [their contemporary brand], and Olsenboye [a line for JCPenney.] Which is a long time coming for someone, or I guess in this case, two someones who used to have a clothing and beauty line in Wal-Mart when they were just twelve! Do you remember that?! I do! I used to own a curling iron from that business venture. But before they became fashion icons and designers of multiple brands, they were child T.V. and movie stars, which is what they're famously known for. I distinctly remember watching their short role in the movie The Little Rascals and the short lived television series, So Little Time when I was just in my teens.  Although I have to admit that I was never a Full House fan and I've never owned any of their movies made for T.V. VHS tapes. Oh, the 90s. 

     Despite those above mentioned 'short' roles and statures, [Mary Kate is only while 5'1" while Ashley is 5'3"] you have to admit that they've had a lot a of success in the big and small screen,  as well as in the fashion industry. Unlike other actresses turned designer, the Olsen twins actually have a very successful and beautiful clothing line called Elizabeth and James which is named after their two other siblings. I'm obsessed with their tailored boyfriend blazers! Their love of fashion is the main focus of their 2008 coffee table, photography/fashion book, Influence

     The concept of the book is just that -- influence. In this Q&A-style book, Mary-Kate and Ashley traveled all around the world, from Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles, for a year to interview the biggest fashion influences in their lives, asking them about their very own influences and of course, inspiration and wisdom that they live their lives to. The book consists of interviews from the industry's big hitters -- clothing, shoe, and jewelry designers, magazine editors, and Italian fashion house heiress -- like Diane Von Furstenberg, John Galliano, Lazaro Hernandez and Mark McCollough of Proenza Schouler, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Louboutin, Margherita Missoni, and Giambattista Valli  just to name a few. What's great about this book is that the Olsens know these people personally and it's just not another magazine or book company doing the interview and creating this book. The interviews are very candid and filled with a lot of wise words, fashion related or not. I think it's what makes the insight in this book more authentic. I love how the interviews were not edited or censored in any way. 

     What's more is that the book is filled with the most beautiful photographs of Mary Kate and Ashley's favorite pieces from those designers and occasionally, obscure items and images that are of importance to their interviewees. The inside front and back panels of the books is also filled with polaroid pictures of the people they've interviewed on the day when the interviews took place, complete with their signatures and the date. How many people can say that they have Karl Lagerfeld's John Hancock? 

     It's definitely a one-of-a-kind book that's worth investing in, because it has a little of everything that you would want from a fashion book like fashion history, word-for-word designer insights, and words about life, the importance of self worth and empowerment. It's essentially an all purpose book in one. Read it and be inspired!  

Love, KB