This year’s tedious “Is New York dead?” debate has a strong contender in Team No—Mary-Kate Olsen, fresh off her split from Olivier Sarkozy and a summer spent in the Hamptons, is back to her stomping grounds of Manhattan. Predictably, cameras have followed.
According to an unnamed source quoted in Entertainment Weekly, “there is no shortage of things in [Mary-Kate’s] life that bring her joy” these days. A confusing statement given, you know, everything. Still, I wish The Row designer buckets full of happiness, not unlike the bowls of cigarettes that were reportedly available to guests at her 2015 wedding.
Ecstatic as Mary-Kate may be—beanie season can do that to some people—her wardrobe is a perfect visual representation for the end of the world. Living on the brink of dystopia is so in for fall, and Mary Kate has been dressing accordingly.
Let Paris Fashion Week give you a fluffy, tulle escapist fantasy; Mary-Kate’s coats are for the here and now. Her slate black wool topcoat is perfect for burrowing down into as if you are a turtle slipping back into its shell.
In her typically analogue way, Mary-Kate still uses earphones, not airpods. The chords are knotted around each other. It’s visual chaos, and just looking at the paparazzi photos my hands ache to fumble around and straighten everything out. But Mary-Kate appears to be wholeheartedly unbothered by the mess, walking down the street in a louche strut, living in the type of rarefied reality only the Olsen twins seem to exist in.
The Olsen twins are never not flexing their wealth in outrageously priced, yet very basic clothing. Earlier this year at the start of the pandemic, Ashley, put a $39,000 The Row backpack down on the sidewalk as if it were a lowly Jansport. They have long been dubbed “cool girls” by the tabloids for their underplayed style, but it takes something special to be this cool during decidedly un-chill times.
Last year, the twins granted British Vogue a rare interview. They spoke about their distaste for the spotlight. “We’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve started out that way,” Mary-Kate “sighed” during that interview. “But really, this is the way we chose to move forward in our lives: to not be in the spotlight, to really have something that speaks for itself.”
Who could have predicted that quote would be the perfect summation of pandemic-era burnout? Copy and paste it into a Google doc and use it as a response to any work Slack you don’t feel like responding to, or an email chain you don’t feel like reading. Is anyone trying to follow-up or circle back on the progress of your project? Tell them: “We’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve started out that way. . .”
There is a comfort to completely giving up on how you look and swaddling your frame with oversized layer after oversized layer until you forget you even have a body at all. The Olsen twins know this. They have been trying to tell us all along. It took a global health crisis for that to sink into the rest of our thick skulls.
Mary-Kate’s untroubled, disheveled looks these days are perhaps a perfect metaphor for the city she has returned to. Sure, things are a bit off. Rich people like Mary-Kate now deign to eat sushi and sip wine in hastily constructed outdoor booths. It is an anarchist jurisdiction, so earpods are knotted and unruly. And yet there is still no shortage of things in this city that can bring Mary-Kate Olsen joy.