Where Undercover's Jun Takahashi goes towards the strange lands of conceptualism in his womenswear, when it comes to menswear, he's firmly grounded into the one kind of reality you can't go against: his own wardrobe. In Japan, he has achieved cult status over the course of his career, his personal style is much watched, we were told. So it follows that his menswear proposal is a realistic transcription of things that make Takahashi go tick. For this first full foray outside of Japan, was it reasonable to expect anything but to be challenged?
On the racks, those shopping for the radical were in for a disappointment, at least at first glance. The wardrobe that Takahashi favors has nothing on its female counterpart in terms of showmanship. The words Balance and Chaos, splashed across backpacks and on the tongue of sneakers, felt like a light throwback to his summer 2014 declarations. Pieced together, it telegraphed the thrown-together coolness of Japanese types that is so often copied but rarely matched. That being said, simplicity didn't mean that Takahashi was unable to work his magic into these garments. 70s American rock band Television and their imagery provided the musical element that Takahashi infused into his collection, either in a literal way by reusing the band's visuals, splashed across a windbreakers or sliced up to form the padding on a pair of "reinforced" punkish stove pipe trousers. Chunky loafers, dressy casual jackets, Takahashi's signature hat, red or blue checks, the lush hand of scarves made to be piled around the neck thickly, the elements are here to be built upon. If anything, his pristine eye for proportion and cuts comes across even clearer in this way. The challenge was here to reframe these into one's own wardrobe, not accept the proposal as a prescription.
After the presentation, the designer's team were efficiently wrapping up the showroom, readying the space for the second part of their day. His other love, was the focus of an evening that saw the likes of Rei Kawakubo, Adrian Joffe and Haider Ackermann among the guests while Takahashi and close friend Tom Yorke (of Radiohead fame) were mixing the soundtrack. Lest one forget it, as understated as this had felt, Undercover still holds its own as one of the shining beacons of avant-garde.