Art and mode in resonance - 2001:A Space Odyssey × UNDERCOVER

Every season, a lot of items appear on the runway which are embedded with art. Each and every piece of art is chosen especially by the designer and so carries with it a hint of their strong willpower, and behind each piece exist the history and stories of each artist and brand. These pieces are special in that they were born out of the resonance of both art and fashion. It would be unfortunate if people were to wear them without realizing this fact. If you know the background behind an item, it will help you love the brand and the designer even more. We would like you to realize the joy of wearing these objects by learning about art through these objects of high fashion.


Movies are often called a ‘gesamtskunstwerk’. Many kinds of creative expression, literature and music, visual art, even history, politics and law, all these elements are pressed together into an art piece of about two hours. For this reason, movies are a great source of inspiration for many fashion designers. Every season, whether it’s Paris, Milano, London or Tokyo, there is always at least one collection announced that has taken inspiration from the movies. But which movies are actually featured in these collections? In other words, which movie grasped the heart of the most designers, for them to use it as the base for their creations?

Of course, it’s not like we have statistical proof, but it’s not hard to imagine that the answer is a work by Kubrick. The 2019S/S collection by GUCCI saw the appearance of models dressed up like the droogs from ‘A Clockwork Orange’, and the 2017S/S Men’s Collection by sacai featured T-shirts with phrases spoken by characters from the same movie. COACH, designed by Stuart Vevers used Lolita, and Altuzarra’s 2015F/W based itself on Barry Lyndon. The late Alexander McQueen had also announced a collection based on ideas gained from The Shining for the 2019A/W season. And that’s not all. Even movies like Paths of Glory, Eyes Wide Shut and Fullmetal Jacket have appeared on the runway in some shape or form. Either way, the works produced by Kubrick have received homages by designers for several decades and this trend doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon. This makes it quite difficult for us to introduce you to all the collections that have taken inspiration from Kubrick’s movies. We can, however, give you a digest with the most amazing pieces. One of those is the 2018A/W collection from UNDERCOVER, inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001: A Space Odyssey. These days, this masterpiece is so well-known that you don’t have to be a movie fan anymore to know it, but do let us explain. The original work was written by Arthur C. Clark, one of the most famous 19th century authors from England, in 1968, and aired as a movie the same year. With the infinitely extending outer space as a background, the movie starts from the primates 4 million years ago to the starchild discovering earth, covering the evolution of mankind in 2,5 hours that feel like just an instant. So why does this work impassionate so many artists and creators, like for example Jun Takahashi? We feel it’s the immense scale of the story, the way it shows the world and the beauty of the images and the way they were built up; it almost feels impossible for it all to have been filmed over half a century ago. Especially the way the quality of the visuals is amazing; it feels like at any moment you could stop the movie to take a picture and it would be amazing either way. The UNDERCOVER collection did just that, presenting many items that had a single scene boldly printed on it.

If you look at the collection even more closely, you can also find several items that have the words HAL9000 (the artificial intelligence that appears in the movie) and COMPUTER MALFUNCTION printed on them as well. While the show itself started with combinations of more classical pieces, it slowly went towards near-future looks, only to end with models appearing wearing down jackets that almost looked like space suits, with prints and words from the movie on them; the show was a representation of the world of this movie in the real world. It was definitely a collection that condensed the history of men’s fashion in a single thing. The reason Jun Takahashi used 2001: A Space Odyssey to represent the futuristic elements might’ve been a message from him to the current and future fashion world that ‘one day, humanity might be ruled by artificial intelligence’.

As a side story, we feel that after last year’s collection by UNDERCOVER was published, the international passion for Kubrick’s works has been growing even more. At the end of last year, it was announced that 2001: A Space Odyssey would get a digital remaster; this lead to a large-scale retrospective exhibition to be held in April this year in London, which got a lot of attention. Jun Takahashi, as a designer at the forefront of the fashion world, and all designers following his lead are telling us that we should be aware of the fact that Kubrick’s works are being re-evaluated these days. This is the best moment to watch Kubrick’s movies. They are interesting not just as an element to be used in fashion, but also teach us how to survive the modern day world and perhaps might even give us a hint as to how the future might change as well.

Text_ Kana Koyama