Twin Spotting

“Group dynamics are an interesting study,” he said. “Even in the most rebellious and anarchistic cultures, the people who affiliate themselves tend to talk, act and dress alike, which is ironic, I suppose.”

The use of twins to plumb the depths of the fashion world’s psyche was the theme of the 1991 film Lies of the Twins, starring Isabella Rossellini (who has a twin sister, Isotta, in real life!) and Aidan Quinn—with Iman appearing in one flamboyant get-up after another. Rossellini plays an aging model who learns that her boyfriend, a psychiatrist played by Quinn, has a darker, sexier twin brother. Guess the rest.

“Society likes to think of things dualistically—wholes composed of two related yet complementary halves,” said Dr. Nancy Segal, herself a fraternal twin, and author of Entwined Lives and Indivisible by Two, psychological studies of biological twins. “Identical twins offer us the perfect model for that.”

But is the twinsplosion fashion’s most honest self-critique—an exploration of the good/evil that resides within us all!—or yet another high-resolution fantasy?

“In our case, one and one equals three,” the Dutch fashion designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, a.k.a. Viktor & Rolf, wrote in a characteristically cryptic e-mailed statement. The duo, whose muse is the actress Tilda Swinton and who last year designed a one-time collection for H&M, has cultivated a twin-like public persona by affecting sameness in dress and comportment. “Something happens that we ourselves cannot explain,” they wrote. “But we now could not imagine being fashion designers without this partnership. … It feels like being part of a twin.”