Friday 12th January

| BY Finn Blythe

Undercover And Takahiromiyashita The Soloist Show At This Season’s Pitti Uomo

For their appearance as Pitti’s guest designers, Undercover and Takahiromiyashita The Soloist delivered a joint spectacle that verged on the symbiotic, and which, despite being conceived in isolation from one another, arrived at startlingly similar destinations – namely, a sobering look to a dystopian future, in which humanity is not so much concerned with living, but surviving.

For Jun Takahashi of Undercover, this meant a return to the world of Stanley Kubrick, having last season so brilliantly infused his collection with the darkness of The Shining, here, it was Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey that formed the basis of the collection. Though one could never guess it, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the film, which played out in the collection with a sinister foreboding of a world that increasingly relies on artificial intelligence. At first it was subtle. Shoulder bags appeared with the words ‘Caution: Contains Explosive Bolts’, in reference to the hatch-door warnings of The Apollo spacecraft, then, an assortment of headwear referencing the film’s villainous AI, HAL 9000. Outerwear was fleece-like and indulgent, paired with shorts that grazed wellingtons with the words ‘ORDER’ and ‘DISORDER’ inscribed in white lettering. Tailoring sat beneath floor-length plastic overcoats and gloves, the ominous sort favoured by Dr. No suggestive of impending strangulation, while further on, the film’s iconic imagery; the black monolith and the Mars site, were directly lifted onto garments for a crescendo that culminated in fully suited figures, complete with glowing helmets, shuffling down the runway.

Whilst lacking the literal references of Takahashi’s show, Takahiro Miyashita of The Soloist presented a collection that was no less ominous, and equally suggestive of a hostile future for which we must prepare. Models appeared anonymously and as de-humanised agents of some feared secret police. Each face shrouded behind black balaclavas or hoods that sat atop technical overcoats and houndstooth jackets. Bar a late splash of orange, the collection was largely monotone, which added to the sense that these were the uniforms of some post apocalyptic force, travelling a toxic and lifeless world devoid of any hope. Above all though, this was a show that stayed with you, that prompted your imagination and awakened your deepest fears.