The tide has turned. Once upon a time, Sacai's menswear hung on rails in a showroom without much company in the way of visitors. From there, it was a presentation on mannequins to a few early adopters in a nearly silent gallery. Those were the days. Today's live presentation didn't just seem packed because each of the twenty-six models stood facing a mirror, essentially doubling the body count as well as cleverly offering 360-degree views of a collection that often looks different from every angle. It seemed packed because clustered around every model were a handful of editors chanting I want that, I want that, I want that.
The vox pop is not the last word in fashion criticism, of course. But the voice of the crowd registered all the louder because Sacai's Chitose Abe doesn't come to town to explain her menswear. (Based in Tokyo, she reserves her visits to Paris for her women's shows.) She simply builds it, and they come. The guiding principles of a Sacai collection are fairly regular: Custom-developed fabrics, unusual combinations and collisions, and a yen for deconstruction. Here, all the parts were in play, in a collection based on the idea of bringing the inside out. Some reversible pieces were simply styled inside out to display their interior workings. Others were designed to be inside out, like the varsity jackets from which the wool had been cut away to reveal the nylon lining. Some pieces flirted with inside and outside at once, such as the knit biker jacket whose lining dangled down beneath its hem. Others offered different options outside and in, like the Chesterfield whose double-face wool was houndstooth on the outside, striped within.
A skeptic might argue that it's a small slice of the fashion-buying public that's truly interested in anatomizing the finer points of their clothing's innards versus skins. But though the clothes were piled into looks like layer cakes—Abe doesn't just give fashion, she gives product, and a lot of it—to pick it apart was to find pieces in beautiful materials that wore their inspired weirdness lightly. If anything, this collection included fewer of the mash-ups that Sacai specializes in (wool sweatpants with nylon waistbands, cotton polos ending in drawstring hems, and so on), and more wardrobe staples of a more digestible variety: duffel coats, Chesterfields, suits, and great knitwear in Navajo and Nordic patterns.