Peace and love in demonstrative sartorial expression. That was Chitose Abe’s approach for her Sacai men’s spring and women’s resort collections, which she designed and presented together via video conference from her Tokyo atelier. “Basically, the collection is to honor and respect all people, and also to agree — ‘Love over rules,’ no matter what their race, culture or sexuality,” Abe said through an interpreter, adopting words from the canon of Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas, with whom she collaborated.
Yet Abe is the opposite of a linear thinker. In the pictures she sent in advance of the appointment, the bold uppercase rendering of “LOVE OVER RULES” that Thomas created for her use was nowhere to be seen. Rather, Abe revealed it during the appointment. Instead of hitting viewers in the face with Thomas’ provocative positive thinking, Abe chose to feature the words on the insides of jackets which, happily, are reversible.
Profound in sentiment, Thomas’ powerful artwork served a clear fashion purpose as well, allowing Abe to delve into her archive and come away with something new. Although the collections feature pulled-together, full looks, her archival sojourn brought to mind her early-career focus on tops. Perhaps in a nod to the COVID-19-era, video-meeting approach to getting dressed, she thus highlighted those pieces here, including a number of highly decorative yet casual men’s jackets and shirts.
Abe loves a fabric mix, and took cues from Thomas’ photographic and mixed media work. She drew from his triangle compositions for patchworks in trenchcoat twill and denim as well as softer, more colorful variations. For men, outerwear layerings — some worn faux inside-out to expose the linings, and often paired with shorts — worked the off-beat, artful side of a street attitude. The women’s range featured trench-based versions of Abe’s deconstructed hybrid wonders: dresses crafted from multiple panels; coat fading into chiffon pleats. But sometimes an outerwear reference just won’t do. Abe also showed an oversize, fringed bra top in thick, colorful tweed affixed to a white T-shirt and paired with plain black pants. Creative perfection for that nontraditional cocktail hour — on Zoom.