What do Radiohead and '90s anime have in common? The UNDERCOVER Fall/Winter 21 show apparently. With this latest offering, Jun Takahashi continued his brand's long-running history of pop culture references – and used it to make an apt commentary on our bizarre times.
Takashi titled his fall 2021 collection, shown on the runway at Tokyo Fashion Week, “Creep Very," in reference to Radiohead's popular 1993 song "Creep." To accompany the show's womenswear portion, frontman Thom Yorke arranged a haunting and spare version of the band’s iconic track. But beyond soundtracking the show, the song's reach could also be felt in the broader theme of the collection which saw brooding models trudge down the sparsely lit runway in socks and pajamas.
"The theme is of a person who is frail and weak but has a truly pure heart," Takahashi told Vogue. "I was expressing the worries and anxieties that individuals carry every day and the hope of what lies ahead. It probably doesn’t seem to directly link to clothing design, but I wanted to put the complicated emotional state of society into a physical form. This is what I considered while designing."
Meanwhile, for anime fans, the real highlight of Takahashi's showcase has to be the Neon Genesis Evangelion collaboration. The '90s anime series about robot humanoids protecting a postapocalyptic world – which feels a little too relevant, now that I think of it – came to life in the collection's tailoring, with unashamed references to the character’s rigorous armor and techno-futuristic gear.
UNDERCOVER fans quickly picked up on the Evangelion references in the paneled puffer jackets that resemble robotic creations, or the black parkas, coats, bombers, and jackets featuring colorful prints of the characters and their robotic counterparts.
Jun Takahashi offset the creeping despair of his pop culture references with a romantic womenswear presentation. Encompassing tender details like ruffled ribbon bows, romantic cuffs, warm shearling, beautiful shredded trouser suits, and crystal tears trickling down the models' faces. From borderline couture to comparatively casual items, the womenswear segment took a dark turn into the twisted world of artist Markus Akesson, whose paintings inspired some head-to-toe prints.
However, the brooding and vulnerable collection's most unmissable reference was to the very uncertain times we're living through. "It is the hope we have for what lies ahead of our daily worries and anxieties,” said Takahashi in a statement. “It is a worldview created for those individuals in today’s society that live each and every day with constant conflicting emotions. It’s a different perspective from that of clothing design, but it would be an honor to have you feel and understand this."