The term "tweaked classic" is one of those fashion-isms that's so well-worn as to be nearly meaningless. Perhaps what Sacai designer Chitose Abe does is better described as remixing the canon of sartorial codes. It's certainly a few notches above changing a fabrication or a cut. The approach is one she shares with, say, fellow Japanese designer Junya Watanabe, but Abe has a knack for marrying wearability with concept. (She was in business for several years before diving into the fashion-week pond.) That knack was likely the cause of all the "oohs" and "aahs" emanating from the fashion crowd that had made a point of stopping by her presentation after Zac Posen's show.
This season, Abe focused on injecting luxury and volume into casual retail all-stars like trenches, nautical tops, and cabled knits. That meant blouse-y satin gussets set into the sides of caped and cropped trenches, and sleeveless flak jackets that zipped open to reveal the ends of a cashmere cardigan sewn inside. Flaring, pleated skirts came in one piece with a lacy slip. Elsewhere, Abe printed sailor stripes on a paisley cardigan with chiffon gussets that laced up the side in keeping with her "ahoy, matey" motif.
Abe develops all her own fabrics, and the highlight this season was a chiffon flocked with velvet and printed plaid. At times, it read as country gear, and at others as a nifty new tweed—but both read chic.
Though the clothes were presented on dress forms, each had a charming pair of Christian Louboutin pumps—either with pearl ankle straps or feather-trimmed—sitting at its base. Sadly, those won't be produced, but watch this space: Abe told us her next wearably cool and conceptual frontier is footwear.