In the wake of Gucci's latest all-twin show, Vogue Scandinavia editor and twin Josefin Forsberg pens an ode to sameness and capturing individuality in the identical
When I saw the first pair of twins walk down the runway at Gucci’s spring/summer 2023 show in Milan, I instantly called my sister Emma. “I sent you a link,” I said, “you need to look at it asap.” Born only two minutes apart, we’ve spent our lives sharing everything from DNA (we’re identical, with more than 99 per cent of our genetic code in common), to birthdays, and – occasionally – wardrobes.
Growing up, the only way for people to distinguish between us was the tiny painted toenail on Emma’s tiny foot. To this day, we’re convinced that somewhere along the way we’ve been mixed up. Who’s to say whether I’m Emma or Josefin.
As children, we were dressed in matching clothes (“It was easier that way,” my mother commented when I asked her about it); Emma in blue and myself in red. Funnily enough, this has led to us both disposing of the colours that dominated our childhood closets. Today, I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything but a rust red, while Emma will only wear navy on the odd occasion.
Being identical has been an amazing thing in many ways. We’ve had the privilege to grow up living with our best friend down the hall. But in sharing our DNA, we’ve also found ourselves continuously compared to each other. None the least by ourselves. From grades to looks, having someone who – genetically – has the same exact foundation and circumstance is taxing when trying to establish your own unique identity. “Individuality is something we’ve had a hard time to navigate”, Emma poignantly puts it.
When we were born, the doctors turned to our father as mum was recovering and told him not to be fooled by our looks. “They might look the same, but they will most likely be each other’s complete opposites,” they said as our father stood there with a confused look on his face and rocked us against his chest, one on each arm. Looking at it from a biological point of view, this makes complete sense. As identical twins we were one single organism at one point before we split in two, after all.
As such, we struggled with defining who we were beyond being the “Forsberg twins”. The easiest way to do so was in the way that we dressed. In our early teens, Emma got into punk, buying tartan trousers at Camden Market in London, while I wore preppy cardigans from Hollister. When she had a phase where she would only dress in hourglass-enhancing vintage from the 1940s, I would wear androgynous tailoring and skinny jeans.
So watching one matching pair after the other walking down the runway, both Emma and I felt slightly torn. “It’s beautiful,” Emma said over the phone. “But it makes you a bit sad, “ I completed her sentence. In the steady stream of Michele’s now signature eclectic and historically referential fashion, seeing lace and leather merged with poppy prints and playful silhouettes, we saw the struggle of our girlhood personified.
The show, dubbed “Twinsburg” was an ode to Alessandro Michele’s “two mothers” Eralda and Giuliana. Two women who “made their twinship the ultimate seal of existence” according to the creative director.
Veritabel mirrors of each other, at first glance it seems that Eralda and Giuliana’s experiences were very different to mine and Emma’s. But as I continued listening to Michele’s voice booming out of the speakers, I found our twinship reflected in his words. “It’s exactly the impossibility of the perfectly identical that nourishes the magic of twins,” he says. He described our existence as a genomic spell to make creatures who appear precisely the same but who, as a matter of fact, live on impalpable discrepancies and misalignments. “It’s the deception of similitude,” he continued, putting words to the conflicted emotions me and my sister felt.
And rewatching the show, I saw it with new eyes. While wearing the very same thing on identical bodies, each individual model emanated something different. According to Michele, fashion lives on serial multiplications that don’t hamper the most genuine expression of every possible individuality. “My mums, seemingly identical, were actually reflected and complementary extensions,” he said.
Describing his twin mothers, Michele said that “They shared a genetic solidarity but, above all, they shared a secret intimacy which was inaccessible to others: an ancestral alliance, oblivious of itself, since it was born in a time that came long before them.” It was a sentiment and sensation I could deeply relate to, knowing my own twin sister better than I sometimes know myself.
Whether you chose to believe in such things or not, we’re linked. Drawn to each other by a primordial pull. As Michele put it, “Together, they were home.”
See the collection in full below: