Two for the price of one

THE S/S 2013 Fashion Weeks were seeing double, with some of the biggest international names sending their models out twinned, two by two.

Two for the price of one

Louis Vuitton paraded designer doppelgangers wearing echoing outfits, model mirroring model in a stylish double act. Behind the scenes, fashion brands have been created by power twins, including the petite Olsen sisters, Ashley and Mary Kate, and identical Canadian twins, Dean and Dan Catten, of DSQUARED2. Both sets of siblings are the perfect ambassadors for their brands and have maximised their profile through the novelty of their double exposure.

The Olsen twins (who have worked together since they were nine months old and have turned being twins into a career), have built an empire estimated at €1bn, across a range of merchandise, for Wal Mart and JC Penney, as well as their own exclusive The Row, and mid-market collection, Elizabeth and James.

Their complementary personalities and styles have worked well: Ashley is the perfect fashionista, chic, highly polished and older than her years, who has a fascination for balance sheets; while Mary Kate is the boho Stevie Nicks/Sienna Miller creative who looks for design inspiration in secondhand book stores and has a talent for combining oversized sweaters, huge sunglasses and towering heels in an eclectic mélange of high- and low-end chic.

As Mary Kate said: “Ashley loves the business side, and I’m interested in it as well, but I don’t let it consume me.” This is surely the basis of any successful relationship — a partnership that draws on the relative strengths of each part. Add to this the bond created by blood and common DNA, and you are onto a winning formula.

It’s not just in fashion that twins are trending. Music has succumbed to the contrasting charms of the hyperactive, cartoonish Jedward and cool indie urchins, Tegan and Sara Quin.

Twins are so fashionable that celebrities are getting in on the act: Brad and Angelina, J Lo, Mariah Carey, Marcia Cross, Julia Roberts, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin and Sara Jessica Parker all have children who are twins. A surprising number of celebrities are twins, including Ashton Kutcher, Giselle Bundchen, Scarlet Johanssen and Kiefer Sutherland, their siblings choosing a life out of the limelight.

So, are twins the personification of double trouble, or a potent force of pooled talent? Why are they such a source of fascination and intrigue, the inspiration for literature, films and myth since time began?

The Gemini star sign has its origins in the Greek myth of Castor and Pollux. When Castor died, such was the attachment of Pollux to his twin that he relinquished his immortality to be with his sibling.

The relationship between twins can also be fraught: note Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who founded the city of Rome, Remus being murdered by Romulus as a result of a quarrel over land. There are echoes of both stories in David Cronenberg’s psychological horror film, Dead Ringers, about two twin gynaecologists, played by Jeremy Irons. One is aggressive and confident, the other shy and passive, but they are mutually dependent and there is confusion about where one ends and the other starts as they share women, career and a home.

In mythology twins were seen as either ominous or auspicious — as two halves of the same whole. An old Japanese myth says that if two star-crossed lovers commit suicide together, then they will be re-incarnated as twins, while the German superstition, of the doppelganger as a sinister form of bi-location, says that seeing one’s double is an omen of death.

In literature, identical twins are an irresistible plot device for exploring the duality of man, from Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson, to Alexander Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities and Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. In Gillian Flynn’s bestseller of 2012, Gone Girl, the central character describes the twin relationship: “We were born in the ’70s, back when twins were rare, a bit magical: cousins of the unicorn, siblings of the elves. We even have a dash of twin telepathy. Go is truly the one person in the entire world I am totally myself with. I don’t feel the need to explain my actions to her.

“I don’t clarify, I don’t doubt, I don’t worry. I don’t tell her everything, not anymore, but I tell her more than anyone else, by far. I tell her as much as I can. We spent nine months back to back, covering each other.”

We have all heard the stories of twins who could be mistaken even by their own mothers, but, nowadays face-recognition software, that can tell twins apart by spotting miniscule differences in freckles, pores and the angle of eyebrows, renders such deceit more difficult.

With a generation of celebrity twins growing up on camera, and the higher occurrence of twin births, it seems that Gemini twins will be on-trend for seasons to come.

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