WE MAKE NOISE NOT CLOTHES flashes in neon above our heads as we enter the red circus tent and into the labyrinth of Jun Takahashi’s retrospective exhibition celebrating 25 years of his Japanese fashion label UNDERCOVER. Nirvana is blasting and video screens project past runway shows ranging from Takahashi’s early streetwear collections to his later more esoteric fantasy wear. With collection titles like ‘Scab’ and ‘Pretty Hate Bird’, and models clothed in bunny heads, deconstructed pieces, handmade patchwork, safety pinned teddy bear bags, skull emblems and frayed couture it’s easy to draw connections between Takahashi and his punk fashion idols Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren. However this exhibition offers a greater perspective on Takahashi’s oeuvre, taking viewers through over 100 looks from the Undercover collections which are interspersed with collaged walls of drawings and influential found material used to create the collections, as well as archived printed matter from past shows.

In Takahashi’s Labyrinth of Undercover, fantasy and costuming are often a means of communicating cultural and political influences ranging from his music and film inspirations to his sentiments on anti-war and equality. The close range from which viewers are able to take in the collections show off Takahashi’s attention to hand embroidered detailing, fine tailoring and draping through the use of unorthodox textiles and unusual silhouettes, a nod to another one of his influencers, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons. “I was only a student when I went to see a Comme des Garçons show” Takahashi recalled. “I was so impressed. It convinced me to think of fashion design as being completely free in creative expression”. With her work Kawakubo said, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s avant-garde or street: creativity is creativity.’

Labyrinth of Undercover
Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
3-20-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku
Tokyo 163-1407, Japan
Until Dec 23, 2015

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-02

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-15

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-17

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-14

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-22

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-18

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-20

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-23

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-39

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-41

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-19

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-04

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-24

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-13

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-38

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-28

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-40

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-37

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-35

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-33

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-26

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-30

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-29

MagicPony-Tokyo-Undercover-08