“Barbenheimer” might have found its most unexpected—and unintentional—ally in this Undercover resort lookbook. Jun Takahashi isn’t saying if he was influenced by the global craze that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer have produced, but it’s hard not to read this lineup through the rose colored glasses (and black-and-white frames) that the simultaneous release of the two films has put on all of our heads. Why, you ask? Chalk it up to the intersection of Takahashi’s signature melancholic vibes with a photo backdrop featuring undressed mannequins, and the doll-like poses his models were tasked with embodying.
The elusive designer offered little explanation for his stylized lookbook, or for the hoods (which resemble hijabs) that he placed on every model, saying only via email that these were “artistic choices.” and that point of this pre-collection was to develop “contemporary wear for everyday life.”
Ah, so not Barbenheimer. Either way, Takahashi’s approach translated into translations—but not necessarily simplifications—of Undercover-isms. His signature slashing turned up on t-shirts and denim separates as intersecting seams, and on outerwear and shirting as sleeves cut open at the armhole. Reinterpretations of varsity-wear came in the form of a gray bomber jacket and a set consisting of a gray sweatshirt and sweatpants, the latter with trompe l’oeil jeans printed on the front side. (Illusion denim remains fashion’s current fascination, as seen on the couture runways at Valentino and Balenciaga and now in this lookbook.)
The key ingredient of any Undercover collection is Takahashi’s hybridization of wardrobe classics. Here, cardigans were merged with the top half of chinos, tailored jackets were spliced with denim and cable knits, and casual t-shirts were combined with what appeared to be denim skirts. These last read as a clever and slightly humorous commentary on the business-casual uniforms of today. These are not not doll clothes. This Undercover Barbie is now equipped with “contemporary wear for everyday life.”