Undercover and The Soloist close Pitti Uomo in futuristic style

When two of today's most interesting Japanese designers collide at Pitti Uomo, only good things can be expected. Special guests for the 93rd edition of the menswear tradeshow, Jun Takahashi, founder of Undercover, and Takahiro Miyashita, with his label Takahiromiyashita The Soloist, did not disappoint show onlookers.

The first looks from Undercover's show - Pitti Immagine

Each delivered in their own way their vision of future design. A near future, both inspiring and worrying, much like the song title from American group Nine Inch Nails 'The Day the World Went Away', which came printed on orange raincoats and capes at the end of The Soloist's rather sombre collection.

The two Japanese designers, who unveiled collections one after the other at Stazione Leopolda - the models appearing and evaporating into obscurity at either ends of the interminable runway - had not exchanged design notes beforehand. But each evidently shared the same major themes: the future, life and survival in a contaminated space or world; the urgent need to protect oneself seen via suits, gloves, capes, helmets and other masks. 

Jun Takahashi sent out large raincoats in both nylon and in vinyl worn with big boots (carrying on the left an inscription "disorder" and on the right "order"), alongside worker gloves in rubber. Elsewhere, Takahiro Miyashita showcased over-trousers and gaiters in leather and technical fabrics with hoods or biker hoods with only small slits as openings for the eyes.

The Soloist's explorer looks - Pitti Immagine

The skirt was another common design point. Undercover offered at the start of its show a series of long, pleated skirts much like maxi-kilts, while The Soloist used giant tasselled scarves or quilted duvets, wrapped around the waist over pants. 

Undercover took inspired from the film '2001: A Space Odyssey' and used several images form the Stanley Kubrick film, printed them on coats and t-shirts, as well as several technological motifs, curves, figures reproduced on the clothes, and messages such as 'Human Error' or 'Computer Malfunction'. 

Varnished stripes to look like reflective tape bordered overcoats and rain jackets in flashy colours such as yellow and red. Gloves and beanies were bright in lively tones (green, turquoise and red).

The crumpled ruffles of Undercover's off-road astronaut - Pitti Immagine

No much colour, except for the orange of the survival blankets. At The Soloist, the collection was entirely black (leather) and white (cotton, nylon jackets) mixed with classic fabrics such as tweed, Prince of Wales check, houndstooth, used here and there in the deconstructed suits, systemically reconstructed via ribbons or straps, and covered with protective clothing.

Such was the new era explorer, a man imagined by Takahiro Miyashita, who never came down the runway without an emergency garment hung from his back or waist, camouflaged by all sorts of clothing and clasped by corset straps and other fasteners.

At the end of the show, shirtless with Jun Takahashi's long white pleated skirts, the models of his alter ego wore trousers and a black leather vest. All wore an armband too, which read 'order/disorder'. As if to say that hope resided in the fragile balance between order and disorder.

Translated by Benjamin Fitzgerald

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