By the time Chitose Abe's Sacai show wrapped up this morning, we were already two for two. Both Abe and Stella McCartney an hour earlier were talking backstage about combining masculine and feminine. Abe got more specific about her intentions this season: "Contrasting workwear with feminine aspects of clothes." The boy/girl mix was a fixation of hers for Fall, so it was smart of the designer to add the utility spin. It's a point of difference that gave this collection a more casual feel than her previous one, and, intentionally or not, a more wallet-friendly price tag.
Not that sticker resistance seems to be much of an issue here. Clever clothes like Abe's are rare and, if the swarms of retailers in her packed-to-the-rafters show was anything to go by, hard to resist. Abe has a special knack for outerwear; we've clocked her jackets in the crowds all over the Paris shows. On the runway today, a pair of swingy parkas with feather-lined hoods looked particularly great. One came in olive drab and navy cotton canvas, the other in railroad stripes—two of the fabrics holding up the utility side of the equation, while lace, embroidered tulle, and silk scarf prints represented femininity.
Most of the time, Abe's Spring pieces were different front-to-back. What looked like a pair of trousers in that olive drab turned to reveal a long, split navy silk skirt; a knit cardigan was peplumed on the rear hem with cotton canvas; and one gray sweatshirt dress flared out in an A-line bustle of engineer stripes. There was a lot going on—Abe is no minimalist. But if the vertically spliced carwash skirts were too busy, the rest of the collection really worked.