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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen turn 38: From child superstars to fashion moguls

The Olsen twins enduring star power is a testament to their work in entertainment and fashion

Faye James
Senior Editor
June 14, 2024
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Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are the epitome of cool, turning their image from teeny-bopper child stars to chic fashion designers with their label, The Row, worn by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Gigi Hadid

Arguably the world’s most famous twins, you couldn’t open a magazine in the 90s and 00s without coming across their matching outfits and cute smiles. Despite being extremely private, they’ve managed to stay in the cultural zeitgeist, which is a testament to their star power. As the New York Minute actresses turn 38 today, HELLO! looks back on everything from their showbiz beginnings to their award-winning fashion label.


First break© Fotos International

First break

Born in 1986 in LA, the twins were just nine months old when they got their start on the 90s sitcom Full House, starring alongside John Stamos and Bob Saget as Michelle Tanner, the sassy youngest daughter of Danny Tanner, with iconic catchphrases like “You got it dude!”. “We didn’t cry when they held us, that’s why they picked us”, Mary-Kate shared in an interview with David Letterman in 2004. “Our mom…didn’t really care, she didn’t really want [the audition], and we were really lucky that we never had those types of parents”, followed Ashley. Mary-Kate and Ashley starred in the show until it ended in 1995.


Making it big© James Devaney

Making it big

After Full House wrapped in 1995, the girls were swimming in acting offers; their first feature film was It Takes Two starring Kirstie Alley, and they made guest appearances on 7th Heaven and All My Children. Their parents established Dualstar, an entertainment company that produced a string of films starring the twins, like Passport to Paris and Our Lips Are Sealed. They became co-presidents of the company on their 18th birthday in 2004 and starred in their last film together, New York Minute. Speaking to WWD in 2013, Mary-Kate recalled how they were involved in the company from the start: “I don’t think it ever felt like we were actresses – because we spent so much more of our time not in front of the cameras, building a brand.”


Wild years© Dave M. Benett

Wild years

While Ashley retired from acting in 2004, Mary-Kate had a few minor roles in films and a recurring role on Weeds until she officially retired in 2012. After the release of New York Minute in 2004, the girls enrolled in NYU and so began their short yet controversial college years. They were notorious chain smokers and even got involved in some Paris Hilton drama when Mary-Kate’s then-boyfriend cheated on her with the heiress and dumped her. She then dropped out of NYU after just over a year of study and moved back to LA, while Ashley stayed until 2007, ultimately dropping out before graduation. Ashley also briefly dated 30 Seconds to Mars front man Jared Leto during this time.


Fashion forward© Stephen Lovekin

Fashion forward

The twins always had their finger on the fashion pulse, from their cute matching outfits as teens to their boho-chic looks in the 2000s. They often mixed designer and vintage pieces to create their bohemian looks, with Mary-Kate, in particular, sporting flowy dresses, oversized layers, and large sunglasses. Her look was even labelled ‘homeless’ chic, with the eccentric street style sometimes bleeding onto the red carpet. The Met Gala regulars frequently experimented during these years before they moved to a more luxurious look when starting The Row.


Entrepreneurs © Rabbani and Solimene Photography


The sisters launched their luxury clothing line, The Row, in 2006, when they saw a gap in the market: “At the time, there was really no other brand that was going after the core, wearable part of a wardrobe which was mainly filled with designer clothes”, Ashley explained in an interview with Net-A-Porter in 2011. The brand name is inspired by Saville Row in London, a street of tailor shops. The Row is known for its minimalistic, impeccably-tailored and neutral-colored clothing and is a favourite of the quiet luxury crowd, with celeb fans like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber sporting the line.


Finding love © Jason Kempin

Finding love

Mary-Kate met Olivier Sarkozy, banker and half-brother of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2012, and despite the 17-year age gap, the pair instantly hit it off. While they often made appearances at charity and society events, they were extremely private about their relationship. The couple tied the knot in 2015 in a small ceremony, and she became a stepmom to his two children. Mary-Kate filed for divorce in 2020 after eight years together.  

Mary-Kate recently sparked dating rumors in May when she was spotted with retired hockey player Sean Avery, with who she was briefly romantically linked in 2007. He is a controversial figure on and off the ice; his wife, Hilary Rhoda, who he shares a son with, divorced him in 2022 after allegations of domestic abuse and took out a restraining order against him. Mary-Kate has also been linked to Australian art trader PC Valmorbida; the pair were seen shopping together just this week. 


Becoming parents© Michael Kovac

Becoming parents

Ashley is married to artist Louis Eisner, son of film producer Eric Eisner and fashion designer and photographer Lisa Eisner, and they have a child who was born in 2023. While their love story largely remains a mystery, they are reported to have met through mutual friends and started dating after five years of friendship in 2017, and married in a private ceremony in December 2022. 

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