Count Tsumori Chisato among the few designers today who give their imagination complete free rein. Because she brings a sketchbook with her everywhere, her spontaneous drawings invariably materialize into designs. But in order to assemble the clothes into a collection, she constructs a narrative that's often cohesive to her alone.
For Spring, her muse idled through the Japanese countryside, got dolled up in Europe, flirted with dragonflies, and ultimately settled on the moon—all while rarely stopping to remove her conical hat. Chisato wrestles with—and mostly gets the upper hand on—personalizing traditional Japanese garments by imposing her doodles and madcap fabric blocking. By now, those have become her codes. But she also charted new territory with materials that registered as more artisanal: crocheted raffia, cotton treated to resemble Japanese washi paper, and white organza that had been manipulated to mimic lace. While Chisato can make you smile with an illustration that shows lipstick on a shark, she can also make you dream about a summer spent exclusively in her all-white grouping.
She could have stopped there, or milked that message with a few extra variations. Yet Chisato would rather express the widest range of ideas than self-edit, so she also showed relaxed sportswear, printed swimsuits, and ladylike dresses. The collection was far bigger than it needed to be: fifty-four looks in total. But Chisato defended this by saying she simply likes to make things. She even seemed surprised to be asked about the number of looks. And how, in fairness, can you tell a designer to dial down her creativity?