Undercover intrigues with unsettling tribes
"The New Warriors": the imposing black banner above the entrance to the basement arena that had been chosen to host Undercover's menswear runway in Paris spelled the show's theme out in block capitals. But perhaps a better title would have been "The New Monsters"? There was certainly something unsettling about the eight gangs of bad boys let loose on the catwalk by Japanese designer Jun Takahashi on Wednesday evening – some, for example, were armed with fluorescent hammers, or brightly colored iron bars and chains, while others were made up like zombies or hid their faces with caps and masks.
With a series of horror film-like posters at the show's entrance, the designer let his audience know what they were in for, giving each of his tribes an eccentric gang name: The Dead Hermits, Vlads, Bootleg Truth, Bloody Geekers, Zen Mondooo, The X Shaddows Hoppers, The Larms, Zorue – an eclectic hotchpotch of references covering music, comics, Pokémon, video games, Japanese culture and more.
As the gangs walked the runway, each group was accompanied by the rhythm of a different melody. The first models came out in white sneakers and beige pants coupled with jackets or gilets of the same colour which were decorated with badges and pins. They topped the ensemble off with red headbands, loading their wrists with gold bracelets. The second group had a darker look, with pale faces and clothes that looked to have been splattered with white paint which, in places, transformed into repeated cartoon patterns. Long argyle socks and kilts paired with oversized knitwear or flashy jackets were the order of the day for the third gang.
Coupling baggy jeans and trousers with sensible check shirts and nerd glasses, the fourth set of models surprised the show's attendees with pretty manga heroines on their sweaters. The fifth group wore hockey jerseys and sports pants with knee-pads and helmets in primary colours, while the sixth gang donned caps that rounded off a series of adventurer looks, complete with maxi-backpacks and rain coats or parkas in nylon or cotton which looked to be slashed by zips in different colours.
The seventh group of models combined comfortable trousers open at the knee with tunic jackets in eye-catching fabrics such as brightly coloured nylon, plastic and vinyl. Members of the eighth and final contingent to take to the catwalk sported slim trousers with horizontal lacerations, and maxi t-shirts displaying images of towering monsters in different world capitals, accessorising with berets and neckerchiefs.
Following Jun Takahashi's decision to call time on his womenswear shows in March, having hosted runways as part of the Parisian womenswear calendar since 2002, this menswear show was hotly anticipated and attendees came in their droves. Undercover made its menswear comeback at Pitti Uomo in Florence last January, almost ten years after the Japanese brand's first men's show.
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