Jun Takahashi’s ode to youth at Undercover took on a poignant cast in light of the recent shooting of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida.
The subsequent debate over gun control has propelled a new generation of student activists into the spotlight. It has also highlighted the dire consequences when idealism is lost: a feeling that promoting change is pointless, because all such efforts are doomed in advance.
Takahashi clearly feels otherwise: his fall collection of collegiate classics with a twist was peppered with carpe diem slogans. “Total Youth,” “Enjoy It Because It’s Happening” and “We Are Infinite” were some of the phrases spelled out in varsity-style lettering on sweatshirts, colorful raincoats and rubber boots.
The sentiments were not political, but referred to adolescence in general, that time of ambiguity and heightened emotion when everything is cast into sharp focus. Primary colors popped on elevated sportswear such as pleated varsity jackets, hybrid tops and coats, and satiny tracksuits with shoulder ruffles — a red version was modeled by “Stranger Things” actress Sadie Sink.
Things were not what they seemed: ripped jeans were in fact jersey track suit bottoms, while a white shirt and school tie were spliced onto a janitor’s suit. Wardrobe basics like a white T-shirt, an oversized gray sweatshirt and a beige trenchcoat were stiffly crinkled into place, as if they had been dipped in glue.
A closing section of chic black separates, including a terrific oversized hoodie with satin and fleece panels, suggested a first step into adulthood — but not without savoring every moment of teenage yearning. Takahashi closed the show with these words from American novelist Stephen Chbosky’s coming-of-age novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”: “This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive. And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you’re listening to that song, and that drive with the people who you love most in this world. And in this moment, I swear, we are infinite.”