On the third day of the women’s ready-to-wear shows in Paris, Undercover came out on top with a particularly captivating collection. For autumn-winter 2023/24, Japanese designer Jun Takahashi created a new type of luxury with high quality products, where street style and glamorous chic merge to perfection.
After last September’s poetic and moving collection, which marked Undercover’s return to the Parisian catwalks after the pandemic, the Japanese fashion house returned to a strong and slightly rebellious aesthetic. The designer started with a men’s suit in shimmering silk shantung, worn with a white shirt and a thin tie. As shoulder pads, to accentuate the martial side, witches’ hands with long red nails a la Cruella are embroidered on the shoulders. Or brocade fabric, which runs down the back of the jacket and trouser legs, which are thus totally transformed, entirely covered with another colour and richly decorated with a slogan “Enjoy yourself”.
With her pale face, red eyelashes and eyes, the Undercover woman is a disturbing dark lady, with a choker necklace, long leather gloves, thigh-high boots and tight lambskin trousers with zips. She covers her head with a loose hood, extending like a draped stole, which is sometimes integrated into a sweatshirt, sometimes into the classic black bad boy jacket, or into a hoodie-like jacquard cardigan.
Gothic roses or a spider’s web, which decorate coats and jackets made of wool or tulle rosettes, further highlight the rebellious punk side, as do the Doberman-eared bonnets with a choker ring as if planted in the centre of the forehead, or the sharp metal spikes that line the handbags. Trench coats, jackets and leggings fully embroidered with graffiti complete the look.
These “dark” elements run through the entire collection, adding a disturbing touch to even the most chic looks. Dinner jackets or large 1950s-style flared skirts are splashed with sparkling spots of coloured crystals or dotted with wandering Cruella hands. They are matched with turtleneck tops cut from supple leather, whose shoulders are decorated with foliage cut from the same skin, tone on tone. Sometimes large removable sleeves with zips are added to enhance the silhouette.
All the materials are absolutely superb, from the embossed leather of a perfecto, to leopard print woollens, to a series of worsted wool trousers or voluminous tulle compositions. Goose feather duvets are present as linings for coats and plaids thrown over the shoulders like capes or spilling over the collar and lapels of a leather coat.
To close the show, Jun Takahashi wraped his models in a large checkerboard blanket (black and white, or beige and white), in homage to the German guitarist Manuel Göttsching. This recurring motif of the collection, used among other things in jackets and Bermuda shorts, was inspired by the cover of his cult record E2-E4, as indicated by discreet inscriptions on some of the squares of the checkerboard. A soundtrack recorded in 1981 in Berlin with a single, hour-long piece of repetitive, bewitching electronic music, which accompanied the fashion show.