“Are you Laufey?”

A fan approached the table at a cafe in the East Village, hoping for a picture with Laufey (pronounced LAY-vay), the musician beloved among Gen Z listeners for her nostalgic combination of pop and jazz.

The woman dining there had the singer’s middle part, her mannerisms and her retro-femme style of dress. She was not Laufey, but her identical twin, Junia.

The fan recovered quickly: “Do you steal all of her shoes?”

This resemblance comes in handy, Junia (pronounced YOO-nia) explained last month over eggs and kimchi on a thick slice of sourdough. She can test camera angles while her sister is hydrating before a performance, or sub in for fittings on a moment’s notice. And they do swipe each other’s shoes.

“She just got new Chanel ballet flats — of course I was going to steal them,” Junia told the fan.

But Junia, 25, whose full name is Junia Lin Jonsdottir, is more than her famous sister’s body double. She works as Laufey’s creative director, shaping the romantic visual style the singer’s fans call “Laufeycore.” She has nearly two million TikTok followers of her own who consume her fashion recommendations and her occasional tours of Iceland, where the sisters grew up.

She is also a young person trying to cement her own creative identity while her twin is in the midst of a professional breakthrough. So far this year, Laufey has won her first Grammy, attended her first Met Gala and sold out Radio City twice.

Twins often get questions about envy and comparison, but even by those standards, Junia has been fielding a lot of them lately. “I don’t feel jealous anymore,” she said. “I think I did last year, when I had just graduated college, and I felt more lost. Like, I was job hopping, and she was building her career. But so much has changed in just one year that I no longer have those feelings.”

Junia, who lives in London, joined her sister’s team full time in January and works to build the aesthetic side of Laufey’s musical empire. She plans album covers, music videos and performance looks, often over video calls with Laufey, who lives in Los Angeles, and the rest of her team.

It reminds Junia of the way the two improvised as children. “Like, we played dolls together, and sometimes it feels like we’re still doing that,” she said.

The sisters grew up in both Washington, D.C., and Iceland, their father’s home country, in a household made musical by their mother, a classical violinist who is Chinese. Junia said she had always felt foreign in Reykjavik, sometimes insisting on walking to school in skirts and ballet flats even though everyone else was wearing rain boots.

At 7, Junia decided she wanted to pick up the violin because of an image on the cover of a workbook their mother brought home. “There was a girl holding a violin, wearing white frilly socks and a little white dress with a red ribbon,” Junia said. “I was like, I want to be her, because I liked her outfit.”

She and Laufey attended the same schools, played in the same orchestras, and eventually applied to all of the same colleges except for the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where Laufey was accepted and studied music business. Junia departed for St. Andrews, in Scotland. Their time apart was “like a growth spurt for the personality,” said Junia, who discovered a “spicy” sense of humor while studying international relations.

Junia studied music as a minor but did not aim to become a professional musician herself. “I wanted to be a put-together, good kid who got good grades and went to law school or worked in finance or something,” she said. She loved music but did not exactly see her place in it. “I just knew that it was something that I was going to give up.”

After graduating in 2022, Junia spent four uninspiring days working for a financial technology company. Then she interned on the creative team for brand partnerships at Universal Music Group, thinking that she might pursue a career on the business side of the music industry.

Laufey had remained focused on music, including a 2021 EP, “Typical of Me,” that she had released while in college. (Junia took the Polaroid that is on the album cover.) In the summer of 2023, Laufey’s career exploded, by way of a bossa nova-inflected song that went from TikTok virality to late-night TV.

Junia conceptualized a music video for that song, “From the Start,” that was inspired in part by the Nordic designers Arne Jacobsen and Eero Saarinen. The video now has more than 28 million views on YouTube. Soon she was taking on more work, like conceiving merchandise and poring over old posters from the Montreux Jazz Festival to inspire art for Laufey’s upcoming tour.

Junia was taking weeks off from her internship to support her sister’s breakthrough, but it was becoming untenable. Each sibling wanted to work full time with the person whom she felt understood her vision on a cellular level. She left her internship at Universal last September.

“I think she really wanted to prove herself on her own before becoming, like, ‘the sister,’” Laufey said in a phone interview. Fans should not underestimate how much of the public-facing Laufey was influenced by Junia, she added. “Every single visual thing that you see is hers,” Laufey said. “Every photo shoot. Every outfit, she works with the stylist. Every music video. Every cover.”

Laufey said she was unlikely to buy any article of clothing without running it by her sister. “She’s my style icon,” she said.

On the sweaty afternoon when we met for lunch last month, Junia was visiting New York to help with her sister’s performance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” She had been working with a set designer to envision an egg-shaped chair appropriate for the bitter edge of Laufey’s song “Bored”: “Maybe you’re just way too vain to be interesting/Baby, keep talkin’ but nobody’s listening.”

Junia wore a high-neck, pleated blouse and Mary Janes to the interview, with a pair of Miu Miu sunglasses with honey-colored lenses. The sisters have zeroed in on a style that leans French and feminine, a mix of dreamy nightgowns and A-line dresses. It recalls the 1950s and ’60s — periods also present in Laufey’s music — and steers clear of anything that could read as 1930s jazz-club cosplay. “I have a strict no-vests policy,” Junia said.

The look has been enthusiastically adopted by the fans who stream into Laufey’s concerts dressed more or less like the girl on the cover of Junia’s childhood violin workbook. One concert attendee joked that it was nearly impossible to meet up with friends at a Laufey show because everyone was wearing similar bows in their hair.

“She’s really good at finding something, romanticizing it, and just knowing it’s going to catch on,” Laufey said.

Junia can imagine a future in which she works for a clothing or accessories brand, and she has been trying to fortify her connections with the fashion world. She has been making the rounds at a launch event for Marc Jacobs and the Vivienne Westwood auction at Christie’s. She would like to be in the audience at future fashion weeks.

But she still plans to work with her sister for as long as it’s an option. She does not worry about collapsing the identities that they worked so hard to distinguish; rather, she spends plenty of time online poking fun at her sister by taking bites out of her post-show quesadillas or making her take out the trash.

Those glimpses into the mundane reality of siblinghood seem to be appreciated by the duo’s fans. In one TikTok video, Junia ventures out into a cheering crowd outside one of Laufey’s shows. “Stop the fanfare!” she says. “It’s the clone!” They cheer anyway.





By Callie Holtermann

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