PARIS, France — Nowadays, 'punk's not dead' is nothing more than a tired graffiti tag. The vitriolic spirit of the underground movement par excellence, especially when adapted and adopted by fashion, has turned into a formula. Not for Jun Takahashi, the brilliant brains behind Undercover. He is a true iconoclast who knows no boundaries but the ones he sets for himself. Sometimes you can't link one collection to the next, so radical is the shift, but this randomness is an integral part of Undercover's charm.
Yesterday's show, a vaguely circus-like effort set in the Cirque d'Hiver, saw Takahashi return to some familiar Undercover tropes: mannish tailoring with a whiff of rock; regal nods; twisted frilliness. As models took the raised stage by storm in couples or trios, pointy shoes and clownish smiles at the ready, a vision of sartorial hybrids unfolded, set to The Rolling Stones' “Salt of the Earth” on the soundtrack. A backpack morphing into a frock coat sounds like a wacky concept, but Takahashi managed to make it credible.
Meanwhile, the slim pantsuits and frilly blouses looked seriously tempting. This made for a mighty marriage of the commercial and the conceptual. But as a true punk, Takahashi kept a raw vibe. He sells, but he is not selling out.