Jun Takahashi of Undercover: Making Noise, Not Clothes

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© Undercover by Jun Takahashi, courtesy of Rizzoli

We reflect on the cult designer's Rizzoli monograph, which documents everything from his Harajuku days to Paris' runways

“The first time I heard the name of Jun Takahashi was in the 1990s in Tokyo,” writes Suzy Menkes in her foreword to Undercover: Jun Takahashi. “Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons pronounced his name with one word: brave. I endorse that description.” There are few designers whose work elicits such succinct yet resounding praise from industry figures as formidable as Menkes and Kawakubo – but Takahashi’s anarchic beauty is deserving of such acclaim. Teaming streetwear subversion with technical prowess, over the past 30 years the Japanese designer has ascended from his Harajuku roots to quietly establish a harem of cultish devotees around the world – and his work is now celebrated with an eponymous Rizzoli monograph.

Containing everything from archival show invites and campaign imagery to snapshots of information about specific collections, the book is both a primer for those less familiar with Takahashi’s work and a refresher course for his acolytes. A particular highlight includes the abundant documentation of the bizarre assortment of paraphernalia which has been created by the brand over the years – ranging from a perfume with Cire Trudon, and toys made in collaboration with KAWS, to a series of sci-fi vinyl dolls which seem particularly appealing in light of Takahashi's statement that "the heroes are all pretty lame, but that's part of what makes them cool." He's right: and it is Takahashi's defiant refusal to appear fashionably blasé that makes his brand, well, just so cool. Surely that's a sentiment worth investing in.

Undercover by Jun Takahashi is out now, published by Rizzoli.