March 02, 2011 Paris
You could see the wine-hued slip peeking from the front of a gray cable-knit sweater dress, and on the return you saw a full neck-to-knee inset slice of satin and lace. A lovely blouson bouclé sweatshirt was pieced with lace shoulders. Along with the play between outside and in, there was tension between day and evening. Abe repeatedly used an iridescent burgundy silk that would usually be more at home on a ball gown than cut into hot-pink-striped tuxedo pants worn with a patch-pocketed cargo vest-cum-waffle cardigan.
Like many of her fellow Japanese designers—including her former employers Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe—Abe's not interested in re-creation so much as reinterpretation. But she has always been more commercially minded. To wit, she built her business for several years before courting any press. The point of difference with Abe is that her twists on the closet canon might surprise, but they're never meant to repel or provoke.
Abe's work might have a slow burn, but it did glow a little brighter for Fall as she did four mini-shows, perhaps a step closer to the runway. Or not. To see these clothes in motion but still at close range might just be ideal.