The Tokyo designer regularly uses sculptures and animation to transport the viewer through unfamiliar worlds. At the forefront of multimedia storytelling, Undercover has sustained cultural relevance by displaying its clothing as but one strand of a greater conceptual web, in union with countless other artistic representations.
Of Takahashi’s many recurring characters, the Graces stand out: the collection of antique dollhouse monsters are both haunting and comforting, often depicted glowing soft light onto dark scenes. These sculptures give an intimate glimpse into Jun’s creative vision, unbeholden to the expectations of Undercover as a brand.
“The Graces spontaneously come out of me, genuinely, while making clothes is something more calculated, an entire process that requires teamwork,” Takahashi said in a 2009 interview. "My perverseness probably makes me slightly different from other designers.” The product photography for Undercover’s SS11 ‘Underman’ sets Takahashi’s streetwear collection amongst three-dimensional toy skyscrapers, but the models tower over the skyline, an evident reference to ‘kaiju.’
In the Japanese film genre, monsters destroy major cities, an extended cultural metaphor for the American nuclear bombs which decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy-five years ago. In “GILAPPLE” (2009), an animated short created by Takahashi and Silly Thing Visuals, the Graces beam light over cities and dark forests, giving rise to a sea of playful creatures and pink flowers, while reversing the ‘kaiju’s’ genre-defining role as a destructive force.
In Jun’s reconsiderations, these unsettling giants bring color and individuality to the grey skylines, rather than death and rubble.