Monday, 20 April 2009

Obsession: Undercover SS09

Images from - click to see the entire collection.

Right now we're loving Jun Takahashi's spring/summer 2009 collection for Undercover/Undercoverism. We adore the melancholy, haunting beauty of the collection, which is played out exclusively in shades of white, and which boasts incredibly subtle, elegant construction and shapes. There are some outfits which look like an edgier Chanel, with that intellectual, deliberately slightly offbeat, Japanese style. We're particularly impressed by how Takahashi has mastered both the 'intellectual' and the aesthetic side of things: Chanel may produce supremely elegant clothes, but there tends to be little evidence of deeper thought behind the collections; Comme des Garçons collections always provide evidence of plenty of thought (besides the basic 'let's make this look good'), but often they leave us confused from an aesthetic point of view. Takahashi, on the other hand, manages to incorporate both.

What exactly was playing on Takahashi's mind is hard to pinpoint (particularly having neither attended the presentation nor received the accompanying literature), but one senses that Takahashi was definitely going deeper than simply trying to produce pretty clothes (although, in the event of things, that's exactly what he succeeded in doing). Another extraordinary aspect of this collection is what we can probably best describe as a sort of luminosity that the outfits conjure up, with their varying shades of white. Once again, one of our favourite artists, the little known Vilhelm Hammershøi, who painted almost exclusively empty rooms, sometimes with an often partially obscured single figure dressed in black, is brought to mind.. it's something about the eerie stillness, the very slight sense of unease, all bathed in a very pure, white light:

Top: Sunbeams, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 1900; Bottom: Woman Sewing in an Interior, Vilhelm Hammershøi, 190?.

We appreciate that to a lot of people, who like their 'fashion' glossy, and fun, and non-thought provoking, this will sound like a load of nonsense, but Undercover SS09 is one of the relatively few collections which we had some sort of deeper reaction to, and we thought it would be interesting to explore why.

We would direct you to the Undercover website to find out more, but it is equally enigmatic.


  1. Wow. The collection is gorgeous, and I'm glad that this designer is now on my radar. I only wish that his menswear was as awe-inspiring as this collection. I like it, but it's nowhere near this.

    But I most want to thank you for introducing me to Hammershøi. I'm upset that I'd never encountered his work until now. It's mesmerizing. My favorite works, be they art, film, or music, tend to be uncomfortable and stark but also quite beautiful (e.g. Ingmar Bergman, Mishima, Nico, or Antony and the Johnsons). So I think I've just been introduced to a new favorite. So thanks. I can't wait to investigate his work further.

  2. I'm glad you're interested in Hammershøi; there's a split opinion between whether he was a rather dull, unimaginative painter, or a greatly underappreciated 'tortured genius'. I definitely veer towards the latter. Internet photos hardly do his paintings justice at all, which is a shame because they're mostly shut away in obscure museums and collections in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

    I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of his work in London earlier this year (or possibly in late 2008) and it was truly sensational. His technical skill with light is just incredible and, although if you take a few of his pictures in isolation they seem a bit dull, when you're walking through room after room in an exhibition of paintings of these eerie empty rooms, figures dressed in black, and occasionally deserted grey landscapes and streets, you really wonder what was going on in his mind.. it sounds ridiculous, but it was a very moving exhibition, partly because of the purity of it, the 'poetic' beauty, the continual restraint with colour, but also because of the sadness of it all.

    And what was particularly interesting was how I went knowing nothing about him and with no preconceptions, but his work immediately had such a powerful effect, which I can't really explain.. pretty impressive for a lot of (flawlessly painted) empty rooms.

  3. GENERAL NOTE: We've now finished the 'Fashion Websites Evolution' post, and slotted it in below this post, so you might want to check that out if you saw this post today, scrolled down and originally saw nothing else new below, or if you saw it in its half-finished state. Sorry for being confusing. And for the lack of updates over the weekend..

  4. Yeah, the collection is quite inspiring, it kind of goes beyond clothing regarding of it makes you feel... Perfect match with the paintings that are astoning! Did'nt know this one artist...Love it all!

    Florent -