If Vivienne Westwood and Celia Birtwell had a child, raised it in Japan, and reared it on a diet of manga cartoons and Disney films, that child would grow up to be Tsumori Chisato. With Pierrot dolls, gypsies, and circus performers all jostling in her latest collection as inspirations, resulting in a whirl of stripes, bright colors, and intricate illustrations, hers is not an aesthetic for the minimalist. But a glance at the very colorful audience attending Chisato's show proved that there are plenty of people who are happy to think of their bodies as canvases for clothes, as opposed to thinking of clothes as canvases to flatter the body.
In fact, like Birtwell and Westwood, Chisato can be deceptively restrained with her everything-and-the-kitchen-sink style. Well, mostly. If any woman out there felt that her life was lacking a double-layer ruffled mini cape in orange and purple, this gap is now filled in her wardrobe. Yet, these occasional slips into OTT-ness aside, Chisato almost always thinks carefully about the effect of the clothes on the onlooker. Thus, there were some terrific color combinations once the monochromatic opening section passed, such as a purple jacket with black frogging and a large brown cape with heavily stitched red pockets. A black velvet bolero crusted with gold trim looked particularly good over a paisley playsuit, with the former playing down the intensely patterned nature of the latter, and the latter adding some fun to the sober glamour of the former. Chisato's skill with patterns has attracted the canny attention of Le Petit Bateau, and their collaboration will be in stores in November.
The theme of the collection was circus, which must be up there with rockabilly and the film Belle de Jour as an overused fashion inspiration. But true to form, Chisato used her inspiration as a mere starting point, morphing quickly into hippie gypsies in paisley and woodland fairies wearing long, luxe gowns. Aesthetically, it was a treat, and it left one grateful that Chisato had found fashion in which to channel her clearly abundant energy and imagination. If she had turned instead to, say, literature, she'd probably be churning out 2,000-page sci-fi fantasy novels.