Alessandro Michele has waded headlong into uncanny territory throughout his seven years at Gucci. He’s severed heads from models, birthed baby dragons, staged fashion shows in cinematic psychiatric asylums, and cast Jared Leto as his de facto body double – with the duo emerging in complete symbiosis at the Met Gala earlier this year. In fact, the runes of that particular escapade could be read in the designer’s latest offering, which saw identical twins walk hand-in-hand down a darkened runway on the outskirts of Milan.
His SS23 Twinsburg collection travelled back over some of his earliest fascinations, drawing inspiration from the intimate and psychic connection that he believed his mother (Eralda) and her twin sister (Giuliana) shared. “I am the son of two mothers,” Michele shared in the run-up to the show. “Two extraordinary women who made their twinship the ultimate seal of their existence. They lived in the same body. They dressed and combed their hair in the same way. They were magically mirrored,” the Instagram post read, before leading into all the metaphors and philosophical language that the designer uses to describe his motivations. What is clear, however, is that Michele harbours an enduring, and sometimes, bordering on morbid, interest in the concept of doubles. “Those things that seem to reflect equal to themselves.”
That thinking could be mapped across today’s offering. Filing into Gucci’s headquarters, guests were seated opposite enormous, blown-up portraits of twins – an illusory wall that rose at halftime to reveal the other half of the audience.
From there, the designer swapped out lone models for a 67-strong phalanx of identical twins who closed the show – and seriously, the logistics. The idea of things looking the same despite being “opposite totally, totally different”, as a voiceover repeated ad infinitum, was translated into pin-striped tailoring with garter trousers, tracksuits spliced with glittering disco panels, and tough biker jackets worn over delicate lingerie dresses. Elsewhere, cute little mogwai Gizmo from the 1984 movie Gremlins was tacked onto handbags, fashioned into a clutch, and blown up on sapphire silk gowns.
A berserk inclusion, perhaps, but throughout the film, Gizmo is known for spawning nasty clone-like versions of himself, making his appearance a wry smile towards culture’s trope of the evil twin. More obvious symbolism of twinship comes across in pussy-bow skirt suits and reflective-lapelled jackets bearing screws and wrenches, indicative of things coming together as a unified whole. “It’s a topos that transcends biology, showing us the sense of co-belonging and sisterhood that should guide our trip through this planet. It’s the possibility to feel part of that connective tissue that defines our common creatural destiny,” Michele explained. If the designer was ever looking for the other half of himself, he may have just found it.
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