Jun Takahashi left a feeling of permanent non sequitur, as the Japanese designer moves once again in a new direction at Undercover. When he left us last season, we had just been treated to a performance that wouldn’t have looked amiss at last weekend’s Tokyo Crazy Kawaii exhibition in Paris, so full was it of frills, dark sentiments and delicious maidens.
“We live in an age of many distractions,” the Savages’ monologue echoed through a darkened room lit only by irony and the blue glow of smartphones. Writers everywhere will rejoice that once more, wordplay is the game of the day: dueling concepts and anagrams, palindromes and scribbled manifestos adorned a sporty collection, with inflections of bondage thrown in for good measure. “Snug” turned into “guns”; “insult” became “sunlit” and “noise” blinked with “thoughts”; “god” revealed “dog”. The sweet irony is, Takahashi’s wares created a storm of snapping themselves. For those slavering at the mouth to get their hands on those LED lit clutches for their next outfit, those unfortunately won’t be available. Takahashi’s radicalized vision had the meaningful punch that fulfills at least one pair of words: it “demands” but we were rewarded by a stunning collection.
“Opposing emotions, contradictions in a social world and within myself,” revealed the designer backstage. “I wanted a sharp and stoic image.” As garments, it played out as asymmetric cuts, a certain rigidity introduced through thick materials, a streetwear infusion beneath the words that blinked across fronts. Sweetness remained, as rows of bows crept up backs and behind legs, or finished off a constricting wrap.
If for one moment, the Instagram-happy guests paused for thought, Takahashi has succeeded on more than one level: sending a spotless collection to the runway and the fashion pack home with food for thought.