PARIS, France — The most striking thing about the “cut up” technique pioneered by William Burroughs in groundbreaking works like Naked Lunch was that, as deliberately random as the splicing-together of the cut-up text wanted to be, a new order would inevitably assert itself, so that you could always make a kind of sense of the words.
Chitose Abe applied Burroughs’ idea to the clothes in her new collection, splicing together things she liked – the zip and collar from a biker jacket stitched into a coat, a Napoleonic collar applied to a cowboy jacket, the hood from a flight jacket attached to a quilted velvet parka — and exactly the same thing happened. As random as she claimed the effort to be, the impact of the whole was much greater than the sum of the parts. In fact, the randomness wasn’t even apparent, so appealing were the individual pieces that Abe offered. There is nothing this woman can’t do with a duffel coat or a parka – for men or women (the show included looks from Sacai’s resort collection) — that doesn’t improve on the original.
You could say that Abe was made for cut ups, given that fashion hybrids have always been her calling card with her womenswear. But they were more grand experiments in volume, whereas here, it was the small detail that was significant, adding a hood or a cuff or a collar. The big picture itself was more straightforward than usual. “More ordinary,” agreed Abe’s right hand Daisuke Gemma. “But sometimes ordinary is weird.” And that was Sacai’s odd allure with these collections, which is how come we were sitting in a basement in a downbeat Parisian neighbourhood on a Saturday morning listening to the dry, distinctive voice of William Burroughs explaining how to make cut ups with sound. I learned something.