Jun Takahashi’s charming representative in Paris said that this season the designer had been inspired by the Japanese underground scene in the 1980s. As an 18-year-old, the designer started at Bunka Fashion College in around 1987 and was already heavily influenced by Westwood and punk. Today you could see Takahashi going back to those good old days in his skinny-pocket, patched, and torn-apart waxed cotton pants with waffle-cotton knee inserts; his totally Camden Town mohawk crew red tartan pants and smocks; his zip-backed, air-filled, rubber-soled 12-button boots; and the Soviet starred caps.
That 1980s starting point however was just the center of a broad field of orbit. Takahashi went back, way back, with a collaboration that referred back to Cream Soda, the 1967 formed greaser-rockabilly clothing boutique, brand, and band that is credited with catalyzing Harajuki as a hub for street fashion and kick-starting Japanese youth’s keenness to look yankii(U.S. bad boy). Takahashi melded the Masayuki Yamazaki’s Cream Soda skull and crossbones label with his own on jackets of blurred and scaled down leopard print, also incorporated onto shoes.
Undercover also looked ahead, theorizing about the future tastes of our grandchildren when they go through their yankii phase. The brand has played with fictional band merch and even fictional band music in the past and here presented several new releases on the Undercover music label. A long sleeveless khaki hoodie celebrated the recording of a Twin Ginsberg cut at Munich’s Studio Wombe in September 2089 below an image of some unpeeled organ containing two inverted putti. A band called Atmosphere with a logo of a floating cube against a monochrome mountain offered its fans sleeveless jackets with song lyrics including “Walk in silence/life rebuilding/no illusion.” The Ves-ches offered tees with mugshots of mid- (20th) century apparatchiks with apple-obscured faces.
These future-merch pieces included some festival appropriate band logo parkas stamped with rainbow paths to enlightenment and illuminati eyes. This was a Barthesian romp through signals, signifiers, bands, and brands as seen through the punk-inflected filter of one of the widest-aperture designers out there.