Alessandro Michele's latest collection at Milan Fashion Week had all the elements of a fashion-based fever dream.
The moment Alessandro Michele stepped onto the 2022 Met Gala red carpet alongside his Hollywood lookalike Jared Leto — dressed exactly like him in head-to-toe Gucci, of course – was merely foreshadowing twin things to come, it seems. On Friday, the Italian fashion house debuted its Spring 2023 collection at Milan Fashion Week, where the designer leaned even more heavily into the uncanny nature of identical siblings.
Staged in a large venue decorated with towering portraits of identical faces, Gucci's so-called "Twinsburg" presentation set the stage for the larger runway show, which, according to the show notes, was inspired by Michele's mother, who herself was a twin. The lights soon dimmed, and an eerie background track began to chant the show's overarching mantra: "I am not a clone, I am not a copy — I am different." As a non-twin myself, it makes me wonder: Have twin siblings been that historically traumatized by looking like someone else? Or rather, is Gucci's show a freeing tale that encourages individuality?
Models eventually made their way down the catwalk donning some of Michele's most experimental, albeit questionable, silhouettes to date. The designer's affinity for Stanley Kubrick's hit films like "The Shining" also inspired his setup. Soon enough, the backdrop dividing the stage went up, revealing a second identical show taking place on the other side of the venue and welcoming both sides of the audience into the world of Twinsburg, a world where every model has a matching counterpart.
The collection pays homage to the recent past, first opening with sleek suited looks and ruffled silks. Long denim shorts and sultry midriff cutouts — very Y2K — appear as accents, while paisley prints adorn flow-y skirts and flared bottoms. Bold matching sets are vibrantly patterned and outlined with imagery of toolbox hardware, like nuts and bolts.
But Michele's 68-look collection also raised eyebrows (and not in a good way): A slew of looks were inspired by the qipao, a traditional Chinese dress also known as the cheongsam and Japanese kimonos. These pastel-colored silhouettes seemed oddly out of place among the rest of the collection, and this demonstration of appropriation seemed to underscore that the designer has not learned from the brand's previous mishaps.
Admittedly, the accessories were the stars of the show, with each model dressed in chainmail sunglasses and engulfed in chunky beads. In a campy throwback to the '80s, a Gremlin doll made an unexpected cameo — bulging eyes, pointed ears and all — as a handbag. A Gremlin's face (blown up to huge proportions) also appeared on the skirt of a satin blue dress to emphasize the overall fever dream effect of the show. Another pop cultural reference came in the form of overalls and jackets emblazoned with the logo for Fuori!!! a gay Italian magazine from the '70s.
During the final walkthrough, each model was joined hand-in-hand with their identical adult twin sibling while sporting matching outfits. (It's impossible not to imagine how complicated the casting process for the show was.)
As Michele took his bow at the end of the presentation, I couldn't help but wish Jared Leto had been there by his side for the camp of it all.
See Gucci's Spring 2023 "Twinsburg" collection at Milan Fashion Week in more detail, below.
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