PARIS, France — Sacai has always thrived on hybrid forms, but in her men’s collection for Spring and her women’s cruise line – designed and shown together – Chitose Abe pushed her signature harder and farther than ever.
“Freeform” was her theme: “To defy preconceived ideas of how clothes can be.” Seasonality was one of those ideas. Abe worked with Pendleton, the Portland, Oregon company which is famous for its plaid woolens and Native American-inspired blankets. “Pendleton is associated with winter, but we’re using it in springtime,” she explained.
One t-shirt had the legend Spring/Summer, with Winter super-imposed over Summer. That same notion – super-imposition – applied to the poncho-parka hybrids, or the skirts that weren’t too far away from blankets wrapped round the waist.
Though Abe’s dazzling technique was evident (one knife-pleated skirt over-printed with a colourful Santa Fe pattern had the effect of feathers when it moved), there was more often a pleasing, sometimes unfinished rawness to the work here. Same with the stitching together of denim and souvenir jackets, or the raw-edged collisions of plaid, cableknit and high performance nylon in a single look.
Abe’s an idealist. Past collections have advocated peace and love, and the beautiful young men and women on her catwalk – with their feathered headbands and beaded sandals and thrown-together outfits – looked like ambassadors of hippie-ish hope. But the world is a darker place now, and the rawness loaned Abe’s hybrids a new urgency, maybe even a hint of anger. Peace and love, sure, but why the hell does so much shit have to get in the way?
Both collections featured tattoo embroideries: soaring eagles, twisting florals. There was a spikiness to them though. The flower stems looked almost like barbed wire. They were the work of famed LA ink master Dr Woo, who is booked for years in advance. For Sacai, he also created temporary tats. A black spider crawled down Paul Hameline’s neck.
One of the endlessly fascinating aspects of Japanese fashion is the flawless curatorial eye of its designers, so often able to winkle out the most intriguing collaborators and pop cultural nuggets.
Chitose Abe heads the pack in this.