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Ionia Co. twins walk Gucci runway in Milan, Italy

The fashion show was called "Twinsburg," and was created by Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele for his 2022-23 Spring/Summer collection.

PORTLAND, Mich. — Two women from Ionia County are still in awe after walking in one of the world's most notable fashion shows. The pair was invited to Europe, and chosen from a world of candidates to strut on the runway for a designer brand.

Erin and Alyssa Hengesbach are identical twins from Portland. In early September, they traveled to Milan, Italy to walk for Gucci during Milan Fashion Week. They said it was one of the best experiences they've ever had.

The 31-year-old twins are not professional models, but a random message on Instagram would eventually lead them to the experience of a lifetime. 

Their only other modeling experience was in 2019 when featured in a Marc Jacobs campaign. They were discovered by photographer Hugo Scott, who snapped their picture during the Twin Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio.

Fast forward to one day this summer, when they were messaged and asked if they wanted to be part of Gucci's show during MFW. 

"All of our friends and our family were like, 'is this a joke is this for real?'" said Alyssa.

They were skeptical at first, but after vetting everything and realizing it was real, they quickly got their passports and were flown out to Milan for 8 days.

They said it was a whirlwind experience, and it felt like a dream even from the beginning. 

"All the other people there were like 19 or 20 years old, and they have agents and they're professional," Erin laughed. "And I showed up with my backpack."

"We walked in with our t-shirts and shorts like, 'I have no clue what I'm doing,'" she added. 

When they arrived, it wasn't even confirmed that Erin and Alyssa would be in the show. There were a 100 set of identical twins that were invited from around the world, and only 68 would actually be cast.

"We thought we were going to be cut for sure," Erin said. "We thought we would be cut on day one because when we walked in all the other models were all dressed the same in designer clothes and they were all professional models."

But after the first several days of fittings, castings and rehearsals, the pair was told they made the cut.

"During rehearsals, they taught us how to walk," Erin said.

"And that's where we thought we were going to be cut because we sucked at walking," Alyssa laughed, "especially in front of the head people and everything."

The fashion show was called "Twinsburg," by Gucci's Creative Director Alessandro Michele for his 2022-23 Spring/Summer collection. 

It was styled as two separate, identical shows right next to each other, unbeknownst to the other side. That was until a wall in the middle went up, revealing the sets of twins wearing identical looks and walking in synch.

"We had to look straight ahead and not look to the side or anything," Erin explained, "because there's celebrities on both sides of you."

For the final walk, all 68 sets of twins met in the center where the 'wall' had lifted, held hands, and finished down the runway.

"That was the dramatic moment," Alyssa said. "When we all held hands."

"The show was mind-blowing," Erin said. 

"Dude yes it was," Alyssa added.

"And we were so afraid for days," she said. "But when we got to the day of the show, it was like the coolest thing ever. The minute you have to walk you're like 'I'm good, I'm fine.'"

"They have you stand on an 'X', and then they say go," Erin said. "And you turn a corner, and after about four steps in, you're like, 'I totally got this.'"

The show itself is getting worldwide attention because of its unprecedented dramatic reveal. The sisters say they feel so lucky to have been a part of it.

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