Chitose Abe has her own take on the gender-fluid trend.
For her spring men’s collection, she brought a softness to tailoring by using pleats in unexpected ways. They fanned out from the body of a short-sleeved jacket, giving it the ample volume of a smock. Applied to gray flannel Bermuda shorts, the pleats echoed the creased skirts of school uniforms.
Conversely, Abe employed sartorial fabrics in her women’s resort line, for instance, making a bustier dress with Loro Piana’s water-repellent Storm System material. “I find the fabric actually quite supple and very soft, and I just wanted to show that you can make a dress out of this kind of fabric as well,” she explained.
The designer, known for her skilful hybrid constructions splicing workwear staples like aviator jackets and parkas, is as obsessive about garment construction as you might expect. While less spectacular than some of her previous technical exploits, those pleats tested her mettle. “It was a very experimental and technically difficult thing to achieve,” she noted.
Conversely, her outerwear had a flowing quality. Some parkas reprised the “One Kind Word” slogan by graffiti artist Eric Haze that she originally unveiled last year. For her unisex shirting, she opted for a graphic striped Thomas Mason material, while footwear included a new collaboration with Clarks on super-soled versions of its signature Wallabees for women and men.
Abe, who’s been thinking about the experimental spirit of Andy Warhol’s Factory, hasn’t ruled out a return to the men’s runway next season. It will be interesting to see how the dialogue between her women’s and men’s collections plays out under the spotlight of a live presentation.