On Friday, Milan Fashion Week’s third day, designers boldly competed, showing weird and unusual Spring/Summer 2023 collections. Two labels in particular explored the notion of otherness. Gucci focused on identity with a show starring twins, while Sportmax worked on sensations, and how they transform our perception of others.
From the collection’s title, “Twinsburg”, to the show’s teaser, Alessandro Michele had given a clear glimpse of the theme he’d chosen for this season. Are we unique or different, similar to or the opposite of one another? Who is the twin living inside me? To depict this theme, Gucci’s creative director dreamed up a double show.
The runway is set inside a hall like a dark, metallic screened box lined with portraits, each of them repeated two or three times. On the other side of the long wall facing the public, you can make out an identical hall, like a cloned space where a parallel show is being staged. And there is a surprise twist: at the end, the rows of portraits rise like a curtain, revealing a décor that is an exact duplicate, with another set of guests facing the first, as in a mirror.
The real show therefore begins at the end, each model joining their twin, dressed in exactly the same way. Hand in hand, they tread the runway again, walking at the same pace, giving the impression one is merely the reflection of the other, and creating a disturbing feeling. Are there two of them, or are they stepping alongside a mirror?
This twin show, which brought together 68 pairs of twins, 50 of them women and 18 of them men, gave Michele the opportunity to further expand Gucci’s wardrobe, taking it into new territory. Classic men’s suits take on a naughty twist with trouser legs that are cut mid-thigh, stocking-like, suspenders tying them to chic briefs sporting the Gucci logo. Elsewhere, amusing denim dungarees are covered with the word ‘Fuori!!!’ (which in Italian means ‘outside’, but also ‘off the wall’).
Wrenches and bolts are the new directional print patterns. Michele has had fun with contrasts. Ruffle dresses are matched with leopard-print tights and lizard skin boots. Blazers shimmering with crystals with large-check tweed trousers. The collection is also veined with an oriental mood, from the Chinese Qipao dress to the golden kimono blouse, to the belly dancer-style pearl necklaces and earrings. Not to mention the accessories, from the plush-toy handbags to the array of different glasses, thin metal chains dripping like tears from them, and the rivers of beads cascading from the ears.
The same sensation of strangeness could be felt at Sportmax, whose starting point were the experiments carried out in the 1920s to understand the shape of sounds. The label expanded on the concept, yielding an intriguing collection with visual and tactile sensations at its heart.
The garments are deconstructed, sometimes looking unfinished, like the initial looks, a patchwork of satin petticoats whose straps slip off, revealing fine lace lingerie underneath. Shimmering fabrics are hurriedly assembled and draped over to make long skirts and train gowns. They drop straight at the front and swell with volume at the back.
Wrap-around skirts with unstitched hems create layers in millefeuille fashion. A swath of fabric overflows along the arm, wing-like. Everything flows and drips, like the sleeves that stretch down along the body or the maxi skirts that expand on the ground. The men’s suits are too big, the trousers corkscrewing around the ankles.
Some of the models wear uber-long thigh-high boots in golden satin, the mood hovering between hippie, glam and futuristic. Shiny fabrics and skin-tight vinyl knitwear add to the range of sensations, as does the extensive colour palette, shifting from pastel to acidic hues.