'Underage' was started by Ying Shen in 2017 after graduating from Central Saint Martins with a MA in Textile Design. The previous collections have been known for their vibrant prints and unorthodox garment constructions. "We stand for the experimental youth; the few that dare to challenge conventions and break free from the boundaries of conformity" - the words of 'Underage' itself.
As 'Underage' describes it, the SS20 collection is "a surreal imagining of a secret society where sensuality reigns supreme." The heart of the collections is the power of the cult. With dark undertones and feminine styles this collection champions women figures. Ying Shen was inspired, for this collection, by the work of Maisie Cousins, Richard Prince and Claude Cahun. The presentation invited you to an 'initiation' of The Underage Society - the display of this collection embodies the idea of an underground youth club - one from a different century perhaps.
Red is dominant throughout the collection, however the tones are earthy and the style refers to religious robes with sheer and draped layers. The motifs are inspired by religious iconography, and the models are arranged with one girl raised above - the leader of this 'cult' it would suggest.
One iconic piece from the collection, a matching black leather jacket and skirt with yellow and red flames motif-ed over it, creating the effect of a renaissance painting, with hints of body parts burning within the vibrant pattern, much like the religious depictions of hell. However that mix with leather and flames suggesting a biker uniform, a look of freedom and rebellion in youth.
Jewels and chains are used as crowns and, in one case, a frame for glasses however they do not have any lens or practical use, the decorative suggestion of glasses could be to show 'looking at something differently', a metaphor. And their shoes seem like feet covered in oil that is melting onto the floor; it's all in the details and this style of showcasing work allows for these details to be seen.
Presented in a very imitate setting, the models lined the room to be inspected by the guests, each detail there to gaze upon. The models make eye contact in a dismissive and unbothered way, capturing that youth culture and societal fixation that 'Underage' is known for, an intense and powerful collection, displayed in an equally intense way.
Written by Caroline Louise Hamar.