In the minutes before today’s Gucci show, an email came in. “Welcome to Twinsburg,” read the subject line. Alessandro Michele’s concept this season—widely whispered about earlier in the week; it’s hard to keep 68 sets of twins a secret—was a reflection on identity and otherness.
Michele, it turns out, is the child of an identical twin. “I am the son of two mothers,” the show notes began. Mum Eralda and Mum Giuliana “shared a genetic solidarity but, above all, they shared an intimacy which was inaccessible to others.”
There’s something captivating, even uncanny, about twins—we’ve all seen the photo of Michele and his friend Jared Leto, tuxedoed doppelgängers at the 2022 Met Gala. The Gucci creative director played up the intrigue here, dividing the audience in two via a partition lined floor to ceiling with portraits of twins and look-alikes by Mark Peckmezian and staging two simultaneous shows without either half understanding until the last models made their way down the runway. Then the wall of photos lifted, revealing another set of bleachers and another set of models wearing identical looks. For the finale, the twins emerged from opposite sides of the set, stretched their arms across the runway, and joined hands: Alike, but not alike, as Marianne Faithfull intoned on the soundtrack.
In true Michele fashion, the collection’s 68 looks didn’t need doubles to make an impact. He worked his way through strict tailoring, souped-up activewear, Hollywood Boulevard glitz, embroidered chinoiserie, red carpet glam, and country quilting, among other motifs. The sequined jacket that announced FUORI!!! was Michele’s nod to an early-’70s magazine produced by the Fronte Unitario Omosessuale Rivoluzionario Italiano, and the stuffed animal handbags were Gremlins, stars of the 1980s black comedy of the same name. A helpful fellow journo pointed out that the Gremlins had a propensity for multiplying, which gets back to Michele’s explorations around identity. He pointed out another twinning detail in the men’s garter pants that revealed a bare expanse of upper thigh. Garters are historically associated with women’s hosiery; we aren’t used to seeing that part of a man’s anatomy.
Michele resurrected an equestrian-inspired bag from the early ’80s, a boxy style with a curved saddle-like flap and long shoulder strap. Much of the other accessorizing happened around the face, with shoulder-duster earrings or sunglasses dripping in chains that served to both obscure personal identities and drive home their sameness.
Visual allure and conceptual interpretations aside, it’s the solidarity of twins that Michele was really tapped into. In his post-show press conference, he seemed troubled by the climate crisis, growing anti-gay sentiment, and the renewed threat of nuclear war. “Clothes are not enough,” he said, adding that the filial atmosphere backstage was “therapeutic” for him and his team. For the audience, the show was emotionally charged in a way that you don’t often get from fashion these days. Certainly, we could all use a hand to hold. “When we are many, we are much stronger,” he argued. This show made you believe it.