The road from sweetness to corruption is as easy as forgetting a giant cherry long enough for it to dry and dimple into a skull. At least that's what the Simon Costin sculptures that peppered the beige carpeted runway at Undercover seemed to say.
The opening felt sweet and innocuous enough, pretty gowns in pastel shades. But this is designer Jun Takahashi we're talking about, and before long, that Alice in Wonderland feeling proved to be more Tim Burton's than Disney’s.
Later backstage, the designer confirmed that he'd been thinking about innocence and corruption. Just in case the prints of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly delights and those cherries, which were also paraded as clutches, with their hermetic loss of purity symbolism, hadn't been clear enough. It felt pretty strange to get what Takahashi was getting at so easily.
All that loveliness was delivered with a sly touch. The Japanese designer is fabulously talented at tailoring, and this is often overshadowed by the strength of his mise-en-scene. A tiny screen on a sunny yellow windbreaker is just the kind of twist expected from Takahashi's off-kilter designs. Smashed mirrors were embroidered on a flouncy party skirt hem, and echoed on a bag's screen. Like details in a haunted house, you could make them out of the corner of your eye; in a blink, they're gone. Shows like his - full of details that make you tick, and engage the brain - are increasingly few and far between. For Undercover devotees, there will be plenty to buy - the wood print dresses, a shrunken blouson as tight as a blouse worn with a long, full skirt in a matching print, a Bosch-printed shirt dress with a sharply feathered belt. For those who prefer a non-committal dip of the toe in, there is always the safety of his final black silhouettes. But that doesn't mean the pieces were staid. They had the ominous portend of a murder of crows, marching to Kate Bush's melancholy voice.
Takahashi has a wicked sense of humor. The jump from Bosch to Bush was an unexpected, if typical, split. That his pretty ballerinas turned into black swans by the time of the finale, though, was no surprise.