The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 16, 2004, Columns

TWIN TIME I've had to make a concerted effort to educate myself about this pervasive entity known as the Olsen twinsMary-Kate and Ashley. With their pusses plastered across the pages of every tabloid, suddenly I realized that I had no earthly idea who they were, except that they had been on some sitcom that I never watched. Apparently they've been on camera since they were infants (whose camera?), and on that sitcom Full House from the time they were little tykes, who, btw, are not identical twins but fraternal twins who look alike. There's a difference genetically, I guess, but who cares? They might as well be Siamese twins (sorry, I've just been informed that the proper term is "conjoined") – you never hear one's name without hearing the other's ... and now? They've just graduated from high school, turned 18, and come into control of the huge fortune they've earned and are wreaking a wake of havoc across the globe. These children are ridiculously rich. In addition to the sitcom, the girls ("actresses," I guess they're called) are responsible for numerous direct-to-video productions, not to mention one resounding thud of a big-screen production. On the other hand, they have the Mary-Kate and Ashley brand fashion and lifestyle collection (available exclusively at Wal-Mart). The Web site for the brand,, hawks everything from book series (Two of a Kind, Sweet Sixteen, and Starring In – all about the twins, or some twins, natch) to rugs and fragrance. It also features an "entertainment" page that asks such burning questions as, "Can't rival teen queens Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan just get along?" On the "fashion" page, they recommend graphic tees featuring fun statements – but only nice statements. But the real clincher is the site's official statement, "As many of you know, Mary-Kate is being treated for an eating disorder. There has been a tremendous outpouring of sympathy from so many of you – and from the worldwide press – for Mary-Kate in this difficult time, as she suffers from an illness affecting many other young women. We at want to extend our deepest gratitude to those who have given Mary-Kate their heartfelt support." There – the cat's out of the bag (in case you've been living in a cave for the past few weeks). Mary-Kate, the sluttier-looking of the two, is in rehab. But what they don't mention is the raging gossip that Mary-Kate's "eating" disorder allegedly has more to do with a certain powdery substance. It is further rumored that the twins' father had supposedly caught Mary-Kate with some the day after she graduated. Considering the girls' appearance, would it be that much of a shock were it true? Though Ashley appears visibly more conservative, they both dress like teen trollops, with Mary-Kate adopting that world-weary rock & roll queen look – a look that usually suits a much older person and says that the bearer has a more-than-passing knowledge of controlled substances of questionable legality. The tabloids chronicled Ashley's anguished rush to her sister's side upon the news, and the world is holding its collective breath waiting to see what will happen next. They are brilliant media creations that are so hot they're burning up ... and possibly burning out. The splendor before our very eyes is brilliant as we watch them evolve into complete hoochie mamas – a concept they seem to have firmly grasped.

YELLOW FEVER I didn't know what they were all about at first, but they were turning up everywhere, these little yellow bracelets that looked like flea collars or those monitors that criminals have to wear. Could all these respectable-looking people really be criminals? Apparently yes, but only in crimes of fashion. After much conjecture (... a Sneetches sort of secret cult? Aliens? Illegal aliens? etc.), I read that they were symbols of support for the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Live Strong, a resource for cancer survivors. Then I found out my dear friend Kat Jones' company Milkshake Media had the foundation as a client. Milkshake worked with the LAF to create the name, identity, strategy, and design for Live Strong ( A worthy cause, to be sure, but I still found the bracelets problematic. I love Kat, so I decided I'd better hush mah mouth. But yellow? It's always a difficult color to wear (unless you've won the Tour de France). A cursory glance through my closet tells me I'd have nothing to wear with a yellow bracelet, except for that bee costume and an old pair of galoshes. Fortunately, Kat also provided me (and you) with a solution to the dilemma –, a fundraising Web site featuring designer goods from Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, and Robert Lee Morris, among others, all in (what else?) yellow. It is a rare opportunity to make not only a fashion statement but also a social statement and contribute to charity as well.

OTHER NEWS In fashion news, it's summer in Austin, so we have nothing to talk about. Except that I did go to a trunk show at designer Linda Asaf's studio recently. Linda's a doll, even if I did have to crash the event, and her frocks are lovely – flirty and feminine affairs in gorgeous fabrics, sold at Neiman's, Nordstrom, and a host of other boutiques and specialty stores across the country. She is a shining new star on the design horizon and yet another Austin success story. See her work at

LOL As quoted in Liz Smith's column from a bumper sticker, "People are more opposed to fur than leather because it's easier to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs."

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