MILAN, ITALY: In a Gucci green mid-length coat – trimmed in navy and styled with leopard-print stockings and a red swing bag – the final model strode across Alessandro Michele’s Spring/Summer 2023 silver runway. Or so the hundreds-strong international guests thought.
An alarm sounds. Suddenly, a floor to ceiling petition – a wall covered in portraits of twins – is lifted and reveals a second identical model, walking a second runway, in front of a couple of hundred guests on a second set of bleachers. Both sets of audiences gasped and cheered as they realised the same show had been happening simultaneously. And so, Marianne Faithfull’s words which had been ringing out all show made sense: “Opposite, Different. Totally identical twins. Identical twins.”
In a wonderfully romantic and emotional arc, the models (which comprised of 68 sets of identical twins. Yes, you read that correctly) then completed their final walk by joining hands with their twin.
Enter: “Twinsburg”. Inspired by the identical twinship between his mother and her twin, Michele has always had a fierce and eternal fascination for the double. This should come as no surprise for those who are familiar with the designer and actor Jared Leto arriving at the Met Gala in May dressed as twins in pale gold embroidered suits and black lapels.
“I am the son of two mothers: mum Eralda and mum Giuliana. Two extraordinary women who made their twinship the ultimate seal of their existence,” write Michele in the show notes. “They lived in the same body. They dressed and combed their hair the same way. They were magically mirrored. One multiplied the other. That was my world, perfectly double and doubled.”
From the very beginning Michele made known this was no ordinary collection. Straight out of the gate, male garter pants made their debut – and a welcome one it was. Embellished skirts with mini halter crops contrasted classic suiting with printed lapels. Gowns were long, languid and featured cut-outs. Sequins, prints and beads were splashed everywhere in what felt like a Gucci greatest hits catalogue. Every look, as busy as they were, were accompanied with shoulder dusting earrings and sunglasses with chains.
“‘Twinsburg’ plays this game, producing a tension in the relationship between original and copy,” writes Michele. “As if by magic, clothes duplicate. They seem to lose their status of singularity. The effect is alienating and ambiguous. Almost a rift in the idea of identity, and then, the revelation: the same clothes emanate different qualities in seemingly identical bodies.”
“My mums, seemingly identical, were actually reflected and complimentary extensions,” he adds.
The theatrical element of a Gucci show will always move its viewer but there was something about this one that made it different and emotional. Perhaps it was the reflection on the solidarity of twins – and the importance of the solidarity of togetherness in a world so divided. It was as though, even just for a small reprieve, everyone in that room was transported to a different time and place. Undisclosed and undefined, I can not tell you how wonderful it was to soak up this little loving township of Twinsburg.