What would it be like to know someone who is identical to you? Someone whose nuances and crinkles mirrors yours. A replica who speaks with the exact tone of voice, feel, and drive. Photographer Julia Romanovskaya shoots French twins Romain and Thomas Sanchez in all their twin power glory - every move is an extension of the other. Only someone who knows them well would be able to tell them apart (we’ve made it easy for you by indicating who wears what luckily).
But who knows if anyone can do that? Their parents struggled to tell them apart when they were kids, seeing as they made them wear separate colors, so perhaps it is an improbable task. Romain wore blue and Thomas wore red, which consequently became their favorite colors. While speaking with the two of them, it seems as though there are a few things which enables you to tell them apart, but that might just be how they prefer it to be because they were handed an instant soul mate each at birth.
Laughing is essential for these twin souls, and they claim their humor is the same. You’ll find them at social gatherings laughing hysterically at something others would never be able to guess. They’ve got a whole array of twin inside jokes that it is impossible to get in on, because admittedly, none of us are invited. They can perceive each other on a whole different level than other mere mortals, which might be the real benefit of having someone who looks just like you. Someone who will be always there for you even when the rain starts to fall.
How was your shoot with Julia?
Romain: We arrived a bit late, but then it went great. I had already shot with Julia before, which was cool - that was my first ever shoot. And then the second time around was great, since it was the first time shooting as twins. We shot at the Chateau de Vincennes, so that was wonderful - a beautiful place with lots of green scenery.
Are you completely identical?
Romain: That’s funny as we just talked about this yesterday with our mother. We’re never actually been sure of us being identical twins, because when we were born, our doctor, according to the echography, said we weren’t identical, but it was a mistake. We do look exactly the same when we have the same haircut. However, when we were born the doctor said we weren't identical, which doesn't make sense because we talk the same way and we have the same face.
How is it to have somebody who looks exactly like you?
Thomas: It’s a good thing, because we have the same type of humor. We like the same things and we have the same style of clothing. It’s a bit complicated, because we’re also continuously competing with each other.
Romain: I compare with him a lot and vice versa. When we were in school, for instance, I'd be like; “I’m better at maths than you.” Thomas hasn’t been living in Paris, so when he met my friends, they were like; “You are the same. You wear the same clothes. You have the same humor.” They almost thought we were both Romain. Besides modeling, we don’t see each other that much, but when we are together, we laugh a lot. Sometimes we’re the only ones laughing, and nobody else gets why we're laughing.
Thomas: And every year we have a big party on our birthday - with his friends and my friends. It’s a lot of fun.
Where is home?
Romain: A little village near Saint-Germain Laye. There are only about 1000 inhabitants. We have a big house, so it’s perfect for a party.
What kind of music do you play at your parties?
Thomas: I listen to techno music, but also a lot of artists from the 80s.
Romain: He likes French music in particular, because his English isn’t that good. If it’s French, he can sing along to every song.
Who was born first? Who is the big brother?
Thomas: Me! I was born four minutes before Romain. *Pats Romain's shoulder* My brother, my responsibility.
Romain: I was last. When we were in the womb of our mother, one was on the right side, and the other on the left side. I was apparently always pushing, and Thomas was calm.
You mentioned earlier that you have a similar style - did your parents dress you in similar clothing when you were kids?
Romain: We had specific colors when we were younger, I always wore blue clothing, and Thomas wore red, because or else, our mother wouldn’t be able to distinguish us. Our parents were models too. Our mother likes beautiful clothing, and so I think she gave us our sense of style. We are six family members in total, we have a brother, a sister, and then our parents. But they're divorced.
When did that happen?
Romain: It happened when we were like 15-years old, and it was quite complicated. They argued a lot, and so they decided to divorce. It was a difficult time for us because we had to move to a new home. Then at the same time our brother and sister began their studies, so they weren’t living with us anymore.
Are you more comfortable with the idea now?
Romain: Yes, now it's all good. We lead beautiful lives, but for one year there, it wasn’t that great.
In movies or TV-series, whenever there is a set of twins, there is always a scene where one of the twins pretends to be the other. Have you guys tried that?
Romain: Our friends told us to do that. We needed to do it at least once to see how it was like, and so one time I went to one of Thomas’ classes. The teacher didn’t notice at all even though his friends were laughing the whole time.
Thomas: Actually, she did notice. The teacher understood in the end since everybody was laughing throughout the whole class period, but she just didn’t say anything to you.
Do you guys have any secret twin powers?
Romain: I don’t think we have one, but the only sort of secret power I can think of is that we get what the other is thinking. For instance, if our mother or father can't figure out what Thomas is thinking, I can guess it pretty quickly. We know each other very well, and so maybe our secret power is that we understand each other deeply? We don’t have to say much for the other to sense it. I’ll just do some movement, and Thomas will get it right away.
How would you describe each other?
Romain: Thomas has a big heart and correct mindset - he wants to do the right thing. However, he thinks his way is the best way, and that isn’t always the best. He tends to not listen to us when we're trying to tell him what we think is wrong or right. But I think I can be the same at times. I think he is fun – he likes to laugh and party. He is more the protector, because if I’m sad, he’ll comfort me.
Thomas: Romain is a perfectionist. If he wants something, he does everything in his power to have it, and he won't be happy until he has it. Romain is also more structured than I am, he knows how to separate studying and work from his free time. Me, I work the minimum, because I prefer hanging out with friends. And it’s the same with money; I spend a lot of money, while Romain is good at saving. He has a big flaw though: he is a bit of a snob.
Would you say you are emotional people?
Thomas: We don’t get emotional over sad things. We often laugh when bad things happen to us.
Romain: We prefer to look at it in a more positive light.
Do you use humor to better a situation?
Romain: Most of the time we try anyway to laugh about it. When I am sad or about to cry, I start stress laughing. It’s perhaps less of a case for Thomas, but almost the same for him. When something sad happens, we prefer to just laugh about it. My computer broke last week, and we’ve both been joking about it ever since. We’ve had a lot of harsh experiences in our lives, so when it’s something significant we are used to the worst thing possible. We don't cry that often, but I do more than Thomas. I can do it in front of other people, but with Thomas, he cries mostly by himself.
Thomas: We don’t like to cry in front of our friends, besides best friends.
Have you guys been in love? How would you visualise the sensation of falling in love?
Thomas: I am a big lover - I fall in love immediately. I’ve fallen in love twice in my life, but it was with some not so sincere girls. When I am in love, I don’t act - I am myself, and I don't get shy. I imagine falling in love as a scene from a movie: one man and one woman sitting on a couch. The guy looks over at her with what I call “love eyes”, and the woman is laughing. If they don’t kiss after this, it’s terrible. When we watch the two of them, we see that they were made for each other.
Romain: I’ve never really been in love. Since I’ve never been in love, I would think of it in the same terms. When we are in love with someone we can talk about anything because there is trust. For me, this moment would be on the street when two people are walking along the street holding hands. They’re lost in the moment together, and they can be weird with each other, but they don’t care because they’re together.
Do you think masculinity is changing?
Thomas: It is changing, because the girls are taking power haha. It’s changing, but not fast enough.
Romain: I think it’s not changing at all. I think if you were to ask anyone on the street about what masculinity is today, they would say it is a strong man who can defend a woman, so I don’t think that is good, because it creates a gap between men and women. I don’t fit the definition of masculinity myself; I’m not ready to fight at any moment, because I don’t like violence.
What is the big dream in life?
Thomas: The dream is to have a good job, but a job that I enjoy. I wake up wanting to go to work. Besides that, I want to be independent, have friends, family, and meet the love of my life.
Romain: I have a lot of ambitions. I would like to start my own company, not just to make money, but create something that matters and changes the ways people think - something to do with education. That’s why I’m going to two schools at the same time. I’m learning to code so I can build apps and websites, and I'm in business school so I can learn to manage people. I would like to be a CTO - chief technology officer. Moreover, I want to spend time with my wife and children - cooking after work. I don’t like the cliché ideas about girls, and so I want to teach my children to respect women.
Philosophy is a big part of the French school system, who is your favourite philosopher?
Thomas: It’s not a known philosopher, but it’s someone I like because of his attitude to life. It is our stepfather - he has always been there for our mother and us. If my mother yelled at me, as soon as our stepfather entered the room, she would quit yelling and light up. He is honest and direct; he tells it as it is. He always has an opinion on something.
Romain: I think it is our mother, because she has always been there for us. During bad times, she did everything in her power to get us past this. She tries to see life in the best light possible. We are very close to our mother and tell her everything. It’s because of her that I have so much motivation. I think it’s good to have a family like that. Every Sunday all of us come home to see the whole family for family lunch at hers.