When I saw Undercover‘s autumn-winter 2019 collection, I was literally like: “OMG. It’s an ode to Suspiria. OMG!”. Yes. Jun Takahashi really did a collection that’s in majority all about Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s cult horror, Suspiria. First, you’ve got to know I’m a mega-fan of Luca and all his films. But his Suspiria transported me to a completely different world. So I was really impressed that somebody in fashion finally went crazy for this film and did a proper collection based on it. The mood of 1970’s, Cold War-era Berlin and a world-renowned dance company controlled by powerful, elusive, sadomasochistic witches… it’s such a good source of inspiration. Not only the collection’s colour palette was completely inspired with the film. Takahashi wanted to use the film stills for prints (Guadagnino gave his permission for this – he’s a film director with an incredible sensibility for fashion) and here we are with a line-up of bomber jackets, hoodies, dresses and skirts that picture some of the most standout moments from the remake. Tilda Swinton – who played three roles in the film – and her character of Madame Blanc in a floor-sweeping, red dress appeared in two ways: as a literal print, and as skirt-pant hybrid in the same colour. I think no other designer can make a collection look so good, using just one reference and focusing so much on it. The theme doesn’t feel tired or invasive. It’s for fans, but not only – I bet any Undercover client will rush for the collection’s garments, without even watching Suspiria. You haven’t? Please do!
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Pierpaolo Piccioli makes people get emotional (and Celine Dion shed tears of joy) over his couture. Does his ready-to-wear for Valentino spark the same reactions? Pretty much yes. His autumn-winter 2019 collection was an ode to love. A theme that might be so easily clichéd in fashion got beautifully poetic on Piccioli’s runway. “I feel that people are looking for emotion and dreams—but not distant dreams,” he said today before the show. “I want to create a community for Valentino. I mean something different from ‘lifestyle,’ which is about owing objects. It’s about people who share values.” Valentino’s community has many faces, and this season Pierpaolo made them even more vocal. First, the choice of models who walk the Valentino runway as of late utterly cement the normalisation of inclusive casting. You’ve got Adut Akech open the show in a voluminous coat, and Maria Carla Boscono wear a gorgeous black gown. Then, we’ve got artistic individuals that leave their mark on Piccioli’s fashion. Jun Takahashi of Undercover started collaborating with Valentino’s menswear last season, and his contribution goes on here as well. This time the designers morphed together a print of a 19th-century neoclassical sculpture of kissing lovers with an image of roses. It appeared on pretty much everything, and wasn’t necessarily a subtle detail. And then there are the poets. Poetry in fashion always seemed to be a good idea just in case of Ann Demeulemeester and her long-time friend, Patti Smith. In case of Valentino, the concept wasn’t overly intellectual or profound, but digestible for the eye. Picciolli commissioned the Scottish poet and artist Robert Montgomery and the three young writers – Greta Bellamacina, Mustafa The Poet and Yrsa Daley-Ward – to contribute to a slim volume, Valentino on Love, which was left on seats for the audience. An illuminated billboard with lines by Montgomery stood at the end of the runway, reading, “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.” The words carried on to live in Piccioli’s designs and the lines were printed (or embroidered) inside coats, tulle dresses, inside of bags and boots. In terms of fashion, this was a line-up of incredible matchings. An orange jacket with feathers was worn over a hoodie – refined, yet fresh. There were as many couture-ish silhouettes (like the yellow cape-coat or the finale dresses) as sublime daywear (think soft tailoring, flared mid-lenght skirts and classical little black dresses). Love’s in the air, in every single aspect.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Although Jun Takahashi‘s autumn-winter 2019 Undecover collection was built around Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ (the protagonist’s face appeared few times on duvet jackets, knits and socks, while some of the models carried matching canes), there was much, much more to the outing. Beethoven and Edgar Allan Poe appeared in the season’s main graphic, abstractly mixed with an UFO spaceship. This brings us to Jun’s friendship with Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, who used the same prints in his latest menswear offering (which was presented the same day) and labelled most of the pieces as ‘Valentino Undecover’. But wait. There was also the invitation that featured Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus. Some of the pieces were labelled with words (in phonetic Russian), like sabog (boot) and prestoopnik (criminal). Criminal? The feathered masks could have been some sort of dramatic, yet very chic, robber look. But the hats with a single, coloured feather? More of a muskeeter. And no, you don’t have to really comprehend all that or truly understand what’s the connection. The Japanese designer, who is known for balancing authentic streetwear with avant-garde, took us on a travel that’s above time and dimensions. The garments and accessories, from cable-knitted epaulets and sweatshirt-jumpsuits to heavy trekking boots and corduroy total looks, are heaven. And the finale, featuring only all-red looks, might have been a metaphor of hell, but the one with very good-looking demons and devils.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Jun Takahashi is the unsung star of Paris fashion week with his extremely niche brand, Undercover. But this season, something shifted. It was impossible not to notice his autumn-winter 2017 collection, which might be named as one of the season’s best. It was pure fashion drama, taking the viewer to another world, another galaxy. Princess Leia buns and ethereal ball gowns reminded you of those memorable dresses that were worn by dames to parties. True, aristocrats were on Jun’s mind, but not only. To the tune of Thom Yorke’s music, models represented different characters, from soldiers in feather-trimmed armours to pagan ancestors wearing fur and ripped knits. So surreal. Magical. While other designers re-invent and rebrand this season, Takahashi wanted to present a past (or present, or future) society in integrated ceremony through his great love for theatrical costumes. Chapeau bas.