An oversize trenchcoat restrained by a teeny-tiny cropped puffer vest, all as one piece, epitomized what Chitose Abe was trying to do with her fall Sacai collection: bring new proportion play to her signature hybrid pieces. “Putting something really small on top of something big,” she said backstage, recalling how, as a young woman, she used to wear a child’s size Ralph Lauren button-down oxford shirt over a voluminous vintage dress. “That’s something I tried to do in one piece.”
She succeeded, and found the perfect balance of large and small in almost every look. Consider the black anorak, cinched at the waist, fanning out in cartridge pleats over the hips, balanced with a straight skirt zipped down the back. Or a denim jacket, trimmed in fur, that flared into a nylon puffer at the bottom. Working the male-female balance, an oversize tweed overcoat came with a nylon corset built in. It was outerwear stylish enough to keep on indoors.
Sacai’s knits are always another high point, and this season didn’t disappoint. Both an oversize black crewneck sweater, and a long green Nordic sweater dress, had multiple zippers down one side for the wearer to reveal or conceal as much as she wants. The Nordic stitch pattern also turned up as a delicate black embroidery on a sweet white cotton sleeveless cocoon dress over a long pleated skirt. It was a moment of lightness that contrasted with a couple of the more ungainly coats, with attached belts right under the bust.
Taking a break from the kilt shapes and pleated silks of seasons past, Abe was able to find a new expression for her signature style. And she did it without forgetting the ingredients that have made her such a successful conceptual-commercial designer: classic men’s wear shapes, strong outerwear, knits and utility details. She was motivated by wanting to abstract familiar pieces, she said, which is what drew her to include prints inspired by abstract artist Jackson Pollack. They were not from his drip canvases though, but rather the paint left behind on the floor of his studio. It was just the kind of curve ball you’d expect from Abe, whose latest collaboration with Beats headphones launches Monday night. Well played, indeed.