Sacai’s Chitose Abe seems to design clothes that argue with themselves. Nothing here is straight forward. Nothing here is just one fabric. For that matter, nothing here is just one style. Contrast and juxtaposition are the nice words to use, but when one gets right down to it a lot of these styles are nearly at war with each other. If ever a line of clothing might have a personality disorder, this is it.
Not that the contrast is a bad thing at all. Ms. Abe is very adept at blending opposite fabrics in ways that end up looking quite lovely. Take, for example, the first piece coming down the runway this morning. A lovely, light, purple floral paisley print on a sleeveless top and wrap skirt sounds quite nice, doesn’t it? So nice, one probably won’t notice the heavy, military styled, dark green pocket flaps just above the breast. No, there aren’t actually pockets there, just the flaps, just enough of a contrasting idea to get one’s attention. This is the sort of thing that happens all the way through this collection.
All the contrasts are not quite so subtle, though. Abe uses a lot of military-inspired silhouettes, with epaulets and big buttons, broad shoulders and stiff fabrics. What does she do with them? She infects them with lace. Seriously. The look on several of these pieces makes it appear that the lace is taking over, that soft and feminine is triumphing over hard and masculine. I won’t go so far as to claim that Abe is making a social statement, but wearing one of these pieces might allow the wearer to do so.
So it goes all the way through this collection. Frighteningly high necks up top get paired with slit lace skirts on the bottom. The squares of a blue plaid meet the precisely cut squares of laser cutting. Every where one looks there is some juxtaposition that seems to put a garment at odds with itself. Is the look hard or soft? Is the silhouette masculine or feminine? Is the aesthetic sensual or reserved? There are no easy answers to these questions, yet there is very little doubt that each look is attractive and desirable.
The only questionable looks in this very interesting collection are a couple of feather versus leather pieces that seem horribly out of season. One can excuse the heavier fabrics on other looks because of the extreme lightness with which they are paired. With these pieces, though, both fabrics are best suited to cooler weather and are going to result in considerable perspiration.
One this for certain is that wearing anything from this collection is going to make one stand out in a crowd. No one else is doing anything remotely close to these looks. I’m not sure anyone else has the skill necessary to even try. Sacai is original and intriguing. Are you strong enough to wear it?
Photo credit: Gio Staiano