03.02.2016

The Doppelgänger

The Uncultured Club twin it to win it

Words:  Anthony Bila | Photography: Anthony Bila & Chisanga Mubanga Styling: The Uncultured Club 

Doppelgängers as a concept are the stuff of film and folklore. The very notion that somewhere in the world there is another person that looks exactly like you – or a person that you look just like, depending on your perspective – can elicit fear, curiosity or angst. Perhaps even arousal, if you’ve seen that episode of Broad City. Just Google it, trust me.

And hard as it might be, if you cast your mind back to a world before selfies, before social media was littered with images of ourselves, there was a time when seeing your own image was ominous. Tribes the world over feared seeing their replica, which meant death, or that your soul had be snatched away.

Both photography and motion pictures are littered with examples of our fascination with doppelgängers, from Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal (that word just sounds dirty) masterpiece, Sight and Sound to cult classics like Black Swan and teen romantic drama like The Vampire Diaries, seeing double has always fascinated us, with or without the help of happy hour drinks specials at your favourite watering hole.

This brings us to the doppelgängers of the fashion blog world, Prime Obsession. The Uncultured Club touched base with Keneilwe Mothoa and Shelley Mokoena to better understand what it’s like seeing double. Good luck figuring out who is who.

While the Uncultured Club and Prime Obsession navigate the Jozi streets on a sunny Sunday afternoon, we converse and wax lyrical about a number of topics, especially the status quo within the fashion blogosphere. Keneilwe sniggers about how she met Shelley in varsity while they were both studying Interior Design. “It was love at first sight.” No surprises there. They hit it off immediately, like long-lost sisters finally reunited. Shelley is the yin to Keneilwe’s yang, finishing off her sentences without missing a beat. The two clearly feed off of each other, and not in a weird Kenny-Kunene-and-models-and-sushi way, either.

The two emphasise that they influence one another to take more risks with Prime Obsession, “It’s a creative outlet for our ideas,” Shelley emphasises with vigour and vim. Keneilwe tells in a measured tone how the pair have influenced each other to the point that even their hairstyles are identical. She shares an anecdote about how they often, on a night out on the town, have had to deal with bouts of mistaken identity from suitors and the like, “It can get awkward,” laments Shelley. “Especially because our taste in men is different,” Keneilwe adds.

The pair has clear aspirations and ambitions for their blog, “Greatness! We have a lot planned for Prime Obsession and are planning to take everything to the next level so the force must be with us”. They emphasise that they’re all about creating opportunities for themselves and others in 2016, making the impossible possible.

After shooting, we converse over lunch and drinks in Braamfontein. My observation of the doppelgängers, seeing their abundant chemistry and rapport, leaves me wondering if it was a coincidence that this uncanny pairing found their way to one another despite being from far-flung parts of the country. If any of the folklore surrounding doppelgängers is anything to go by, I doubt it.

Shelley Mokoena

Job Title: Interior Designer/Fashion Blogger

What have you achieved as individuals and together?

Apart from tangible things, growth and experience is an on-going achievement. We grow personally as individuals and we also grow together as a brand through various experiences.

How do you influence each other?

We feed off of each other’s energy. Although we are alike and we have similar interests, we are different people and we complement each other in that way.

How are you similar?

Our interests and just the general things that we like.

How are you different?

Our personalities.

What's your superpower, or spirit animal?

I’m calm in almost every situation and that kind of scares people a bit because they don’t really know what I’m thinking.

Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?

At this stage in my life I would say it's myself. I’ve learned to become more selfless with myself. I’ve gone through stages where I did not like myself at all, which has assisted me in being the best me I can be.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

My mother. Even though I’ve always kind of been a rebellious child, she allowed me to explore my creative interests even though she didn’t understand it at times. I was never pushed into a corner to do something that my parents thought was the ‘right’ career path for me, which I am thankful for. Ultimately, I learned that if you love something or someone, set it free.

What does your future hold?

The most important thing to me right now is my career as a designer/creative. So I am taking all the necessary steps to be successful in that field.

If this was to be your very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to your doppelgänger?

I don’t think it will ever be our last conversation. Till death do us apart, haha. Actually, we’ll meet in the afterlife.

How would you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference in other people’s lives through my work, doing what I honestly and wholeheartedly love doing.

Keneilwe Mothoa

Job Title: Interior Designer/Fashion Blogger

What have you achieved as individuals and together?

Together as a brand, I would say collaborating with other people and brands that allowed us to explore more of the fashion side of things like styling influential people in SA. And for me I'd say obtaining my interior design qualification was my biggest achievement, as well as challenging myself to take risks and explore more with my work.

How do you influence each other?

We feed off each other, influence each other through our style and the way we think. We make a positive and fun impact in each other's lives. 

How are you similar?

We are similar in the way we dress, our haircuts obviously, and generally the things we like.

How are you different?

Well our backgrounds are different, some of our interests, taste in men, slightly, and we complement each other's personalities because the one is an introvert and the other an extrovert.

What's your superpower, or what's your spirit animal?

Being able to adapt easily in different environments.

Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?

My mom and aunt because they are the people who have helped me through the toughest of times and are so giving and supportive. My mother taught me to be a woman of structure and valour.

If this was to be your very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to your doppelgänger? 

I’d say breathe, relax, because this is the only day you have, grab it by the horns and make the most of it, take every hour as it comes.

How would you want to be remembered?

For being a free-spirited person, creating opportunities for others, creating and making the impossible possible.