Gucci’s Twinburg show at Milan Fashion Week opened with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Identical twins words read by Marianne Faithfull, her wise and poetic voice resounding on the loudspeakers: “We are twins, we are twins, yes sir. I am me, she is her, except when I pretend to be her. And when we change, you can’t tell which is which. You don’t know who you’re talking to, because we’re identical, ‘identical, ‘identical, identical twins!”
But even that intro wasn’t the show’s biggest shock, which started with models parading the catwalk alone, before each was joined for a second walk with their identical twin, evoking the feeling of a runway show. additional. Seeing each look first in the traditional runway format and then seeing it again with an exact copy – styled and reproduced in the same way – created an empowering effect. Creative director Alessandro Michele said he was inspired by the intimate pairing of his own mother and twin. But the meaning here went much further, playing with the idea of originals and copies. What does it mean when style is multiplied, and how does individualism affect identity, perception, and even self-expression?
The collection itself was made up of a mix of Michele’s greatest hits, plus what felt like a throwback to the magpie’s eccentric love of accessories and ornate decoration that is so tied to Michele’s early collections for Gucci (in recent seasons it was like jewelry taken a back seat). Spring 2023 was purely a celebration of individuality. Beaded headpieces, beaded earrings that stretched over a foot long, bows, animal print gloves, dangling glasses with chains, and metal face jewelry, all dripped from each identical body in unison.
There were even fluffy Gizmo versions of Gremlins hanging from belts, on soft bags and printed at the bottom of two column-style dresses. Dark humor punctuated the collection, with the serious reading of the Olsen twins and the somewhat macabre ornaments. Oversized, flamboyant sequined jackets say “fuori” (“out” in Italian).
Tailored blazers, leather jackets, pinstripe suits and sporty logoed leather coats played up the understated side of duality – slightly offbeat effects were also there, such as broken suits with visible suspenders and flip-flops . Pleated gold blouses, overalls, glittery animal print dresses with matching beanies, attached gloves and sequined jackets represented a version of pure opposites.
“The same clothes emanate different qualities on seemingly identical bodies,” Michele wrote in the show’s notes. “Fashion, after all, lives on serial multiplications that do not hinder the most authentic expression of each individuality possible.” It was all true. But one couldn’t help but wonder, with such an endearing expression that really touched on a love of self-expression and individualistic representation, where were the diverse twin bodies? There were 69 pairs of twins, and all resembled the traditional model ideal.
Still, as the twinsets walked the runway holding hands, each of their nails matching and painted with two colors, it was a powerful sight that made even the craziest and most produced shows look too bland in comparison. The message of identity and otherness – duplicity, if you will – is quite the thought starter when contextualized in fashion; especially given the times we live in.