It has been a long road for the Japanese designer Chitose Abe and her Tokyo-based brand, Sacai. She began her career working as a patternmaker for Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçons, then for Junya Watanabe. After leaving the cult label Comme des Garçons and about a year after giving birth to a daughter, Chitose Abe founded her label Sacai, a play on her maiden name, Sakai. She has became one of the most loved fashion designers in the menswear industry.
She showcased the Sacai womenswear and menswear spring/summer 2019 collection in Paris on Saturday with a show on the fifth floor of the old offices of the French newspaper Libération, in a car park. The guests sat in front of huge stacks of vintage speakers held together by fluorescent straps.
Chitose Abe is continuing her story of focusing on fabrics and patterns associated with one season and transposing them to another. This season, Sacai ignored pre-conceived ideas about garments for men and women and the established seasons to create her own “spring/winter” collection.
The warm Native American inspired blankets from the Oregon mills of Pendleton are re-contextualised into spring fabrics. The pattern is lost in free-flowing asymmetric dresses, oversized hoodies, on trousers with the cuff rolled-up, and pleated dresses. The idea can be a fashion faux pas, or even worse, a hint of cultural appropriation. Chitose Abe makes it look good, which is not an easy task, and even twists it to feel super cool.
Between a few Type II denim and MA1 jacket military hybrid styles, the polka dot silk scarves in powder pink and hunter green inserted into blouses transform into chic dresses, pyjamas and jumpsuits.
The label Sacai collaborated with popular Hollywood tattoo artist Brian Woo, also known as Dr Woo, for tattoo art on the sweaters, denim, outerwear pieces and bags. His designs are incorporated into delicate embroideries, in light touches, as a spell of good fortune.
The Japanese designer created two amazing Nike hybrid sneakers by fusing the Nike LDV and the Nike Waffle Daybreak, then mixing the Nike Blazer with the Nike Dunk, matching the colours of the garments.
She purposely left on the sneakers a double tongue, double swoosh logo and double shoes laces. Those Nike Hybrids will be released in January 2019 as a limited edition.
Thanks to her background as a patternmaker, Abe has a technical approach and an impressive knowledge of fabrics. She is creating relevant collaborations, not just quick crossovers. Sacai’s clothes are creative but easy-to-wear. The Japanese label is growing every season because she is the perfect mix of old-school and modern fashion designer that resonates in the heart of many people.