PARIS, France — The layers upon layers upon layers in the Sacai show crystallised why the label is one of fashion’s favourite cults. The soundtrack, courtesy of Clockwork Orange, helped. There were other oblique references to that movie: the boiler suit the droogs wore, the words horrorshow and oddy-knocky (Nadsat for “good” and “alone”) printed on tops. But that was only the beginning of Chitose Abe’s rich tapestry.
One outfit featured a pineapple print (Hawaii), paisley from the UK and patterned belts from Afghanistan collaged into a parka, the most classic item from the Mod wardrobe in early 1960s Britain. It was the sort of densely hybrid, wittily curatorial piece that is a Sacai signature. Another parka mixed Mexican patterns with English tweed. There were MA-1’s and other military items dyed a dense fuchsia pink, aggression turned peace and love. Traditional straight-tip boots had basketball laces. And almost everything had rasta mesh tanks as a foundation.
Chitose showed her women’s pre-collection alongside her Spring 2017 menswear. The vocabulary was more or less the same, but it looked more familiar, and more polished. A tweed jacket doubled over a high performance sports jacket was a typically chic Sacai hybrid, while the menswear had a rough, rave-y edge.
But in both cases, there was that particular Japanese appreciation of Western pop culture which is able to feed back to us all that's familiar in gloriously unpredictable ways. There were badges, blank because, said Chitose’s lieutenant Daisuke Gemma, “there’s something on your mind but we don’t talk about it.” Remember that Chitose is Rei Kawakubo’s protégé. And accept that she is another face of Japan’s enduring ability to challenge, provoke, bemuse — and amuse.