The show of the season? There are still a few days and several important names left on the Paris calendar, but Chitose Abe's new Sacai
collection set the bar very high today. Anyone familiar with her clothes will recognize the inventive one-thing-in-front, another-thing-in-back construction of the pieces on her runway. That said, there was an irresistible new swagger to these clothes. The furs were furrier, collars stood up higher, and the trompe l'oeil twists were even more head-spinning than usual.
If Abe is feeling bolder, there's excellent reason. Suddenly, she's super-influential. Designers with much bigger profiles have been looking at the way she combines a tailored jacket with a parka, or a puffer with a fur, and incorporating similar kinds of mash-ups into their own collections. Backstage she said she wasn't aware that she'd become fashion's standard-bearer. We believe her. Abe lives and works in Tokyo, far from the kind of cross-pollination that designers get used to in Paris.
For Fall, she focused on expanding her brand DNA by experimenting with wrapping and adding versatility to individual garments. On the runway, gaps in plissé kilts revealed flashes of hip and upper thigh, but in real life they could be worn discreetly closed. As complicated as her patterns must be, the clothes rarely landed on the wrong side of conceptual. In other news, rich dévoré velvets were spliced with cable knits on looks that split the difference between night and day, and scarf-print silks were layered on top of each other with vivid results.
What really made an impression, though, was Abe's outerwear. Putting the statement in statement coat, she married a Mongolian lamb biker jacket with an orange Prince of Wales man's coat, and made an equally persuasive case for an unlikely sporty zip-front jacket and colorful serape wrap combo. The show crescendoed with a group of shearling-strewn down puffer hybrids of such fabulousness that Sacai fans will be fighting over them come Fall.