Barring a radical change in design philosophy, Sacai will always be framed in the familiarity of Chitose Abe’s hybrid constructions. Her ability to create newness, as she did beautifully for spring, within her strict, self-imposed parameters continues to be impressive.
Abe surprised and elevated with the spring lineup. Distancing the look from the sometimes aggressive street, outerwear and athletic references that have featured prominently in past collections, she opted to show a softer, more feminine side. Without dumbing anything down, the girlishness made the clothes feel more approachable and very appealing.
Scarves and patterns associated with different cultures and parts of the world formed one side of the story with lingerie effects and opulent gilded fabrics making up the balance. Almost hidden in the mix was a shirt embroidered with the Paradise Garage logo, the famous New York City gay club of the Seventies and Eighties known for its eclectic, influential garage music scene and predominantly Latino and black patrons. The motif, introduced in Abe’s men’s collection to represent the “freedom and chaos” of the club’s dance-centric melting pot, illuminated other references in the lineup, none of them overbearing or too obviously symbolic.
The show opened with a pastel pink-based scarf print featuring buildings, tigers and leopards and the word Sacai, like an in-house collectible souvenir scarf. Worked into elaborate, macro-floral guipurelike embroideries on mesh, it appeared on relatively straightforward dresses cut out to gently fall off the shoulders, and skirts sliced to appear to drop off under the bum. Camisole and slip details peaked out from underneath. The scarves became bandannas, which have historical significance as a code for sexual preferences among gay men, and are currently trending big in Japanese street style.
They were simply wrapped over pretty, pleated lingerie underpinnings and cut into lean maxiskirts with double slits and trapeze tops. Many looks were topped off with bandannas casually knotted around the necks, copping a hip, Western bourgeois attitude. Then they became ornate, a little Vegas-y, as Abe embroidered traditional handkerchief patterns in gold and silver studs and grommets on plain navy and black technical fabrics.
Even more lavish were the regal, gold-embroidered navy guipure-esque pieces that closed the show. The fabric work was striking, as was Abe’s sense of color, flaunted throughout with saturated fuchsia, green, yellow, pale pink and gold played against navy, slyly using the lingerie elements as a powerful source of the vivid hues.