Over the course of several months, Cadhla and Sadhbh O’Reilly have clocked up modelling kudos from the industry’s finest; all whilst studying for the Leaving Cert. In their debut interview, they chat creative synergy and the industry-wide crush on dynamic duos.
“All new models are different: for some, you’re going to have to develop them in the background for a while before exposing them, while with others you just need to go for it – throw them straight into the deep end.”
One Instagram pic can kickstart an entire career. It’s not a commonly cited saying, nor is it especially snappy but, in the case of Cadhla and Sadhbh, the shoe certainly fits. Last November, modelling newcomer Mia Sweeney – a freshly-signed addition to NotAnother – casually posted a snap of the twins. Her agency’s managing director, Aislinn Lawlor, stumbled upon the photo and was instantly stopped in her tracks. “We knew straight away the girls were special,” she recalls, “as individually, they had such unique looks. The fact they were twins was a total bonus!” Without missing a beat, she reached out to suss their interest in modelling, much to their excitement.
“Of course, we said yes, we’re interested! Growing up, we were obsessed with America’s Next Top Model” – a familiar TV diet to most style-enthused Millennials/Generation Z’ers – “and our sister, who’s just turned 20, does modelling in Ireland and internationally. When she started working, that was a real moment for us in thinking, maybe we could try this as well.” By the end of their first agency meeting, Lawlor – alongside the rest of NotAnother – was smitten. “Right from the start, we could see they had ‘it’. We just wanted to ensure that, considering their massive potential, they did the right work, and worked with the right people. All new models are different: for some, you’re going to have to develop them in the background for a while before exposing them [to the fashion sector], while with others you just need to go for it – throw them straight into the deep end.”
It’s crystal clear that the twins skipped into the second category. Barely a month after that fateful Instagram spotting, they were modelling cream-of-the-crop Irish Design in Fí, a fashion film captured by Perry Ogden and creatively-directed by Paula Hughes, in collaboration with Showcase 2019. Scanning through stills from the project, it’s hard to fathom that Cadhla and Sadhbh hadn’t done a single shoot before filming on set. Confidently staring down the camera lens in polychromatic Katie Hanlan and snow-white Alison Connelly, their on-screen presence was unshakably poised.
“We were actually nervous, for the reason that we’d never done anything like this before – not even test shots – it was literally our first time in front of a camera. So that was terrifying! But Perry and the team were such nice people, and that soothed our nerves. It was a really great shoot to start with.” Life-changing career moments aside, the girls never strayed too far from a textbook – their scouting took place several months into sixth year, so they began combining study sessions with diverse shoots. Fí made its debut screening mere weeks before the start of mock exams, while subsequent term-time highlights saw the twins work with Eilish McCormick and Kieran Kilgallon as well as receive enthused offers from London agencies; all whilst keeping their profiles off the NotAnother website, to quietly build up their books. It was during this time that Cleo Prickett encountered the twins on Instagram, earmarking their shots for future reference.
“Rosie [Barrett] and Albert [Hooi] later approached me about doing a film for my newest collection,” Prickett recounts, “which I was really keen to experiment with. Rosie had this idea about using two models, and I immediately remembered the twins. Suddenly the timing [to work with them] was perfect.” Stationing Cadhla and Sadhbh in a Brutalist gem of a setting – I’m sworn to secrecy on the exact location – their every movement was seamlessly choreographed by Barrett, while their report card from the day’s work, according to Prickett, boasts nothing but straight As. The twins are just as effusive towards their collaborators. “It was the first fashion film Rosie had ever directed, and she was absolutely amazing! The clothes and the videography were just as wonderful. Beforehand, Rosie sent us a moodboard so we knew exactly what to expect, and how best to prepare… It was yet another experience, alongside all the guidance and encouragement we’ve gotten from NotAnother, that showed us just how strong the Irish fashion community is. Here, it’s an industry built by really hard working designers, stylists, photographers… everyone that has to do with the making of a shoot. Of course, you can see that [graft] internationally as well, but it’s definitely more competitive. We haven’t done any international work yet, but you still get that vibe straight off.”
This sector has long held a soft spot for dynamic duos – Mary Kate and Ashley were a likely catalyst – but it’s safe to say that, over the past few seasons, fashion twins have exploded in popularity. There’s Molly and Reese Blutstein, “It-sta Girls” hailing from Georgia whose success has compelled them to quit university. Or Ami and Aya Suzuri, Japanese musicians-turned-influencers who waft through fashion weeks in colour-popping wares, their perfectly-coiffed pink bobs in tow. The Dolan Twins (Ethan and Grayson) have most recently joined the ranks, rocking up to Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton show in Paris last June. The common denominator between these duos? Their ability to work incredibly well as a team, without losing their identities in each another.
The same attributes apply to Cadhla and Sadhbh, both personally and professionally: their “sarcastic but chill, laid-back” personalities may be in sync, but they retain a strong sense of individualism. College-wise, we’re paving separate paths. Cadhla wants to study business and law, while Sadhbh would like to do geography. “We’ve stuck together, obviously, our whole lives, and we’re really happy to have embarked on this journey together, to have been scouted at the same time. In the future, we wouldn’t be scared to work on separate projects, but experiencing these amazing opportunities together is much more fun, and much more calming.”
Most newly emerged models could be forgiven for nursing a touch of naiveté, but it’s apparent that Cadhla and Sadhbh, on the cusp of serious domestic (and overseas) success, have their heads screwed on. “For the next year, combining modelling and college is our game plan. Because of sixth year, we couldn’t really do much industry work – we had to study, there were a lot of obstacles in our way – so over the coming 12 months, we want to continue building up our books. We did have some great offers from London agencies – we’ve put them off for this year, but we want to go over next year to [embrace] full-time modelling. Then we plan to return to college after that year off and complete our degrees, travelling abroad during the summer for modelling work.” Their fantasy gig, without question, would be a Prada campaign, citing their mum’s long-time love for Miuccia P. as a major influence: “It would only happen in a dream world, but it would be so cool to show her.”
Concluding insightfully, Lawlor flags the industry’s “twin infatuation” as something much more substantial than a simple fad. Yes, the fashion domain is still thirsting after “the next ‘IT’ thing, but fashion is at a really interesting place right now. The supermodel era was great, but it was also filled with ‘goddess girls’ that most average women felt they could never amount to. Now, it’s gone the polar opposite: there is so much more room for unusual beauties, different sizes, different ethnicities. I am so happy to see it, because this means there are no boundaries on beauty and, in celebrating twins, the industry is celebrating what makes people unique. It feels like the flood gates have opened!”
Words: Amelia O’Mahony Brady
The Twins – Perry Ogden and Paula Hughes Showcase 2019 – designer Katie Hanlan
The Twins – Independent Life Magazine
The Twins – Cleo Prickett