Chitose Abe has brought ingenuity to her pattern-making since the beginning of her Tokyo-based brand Sacai, splicing garments into hybrids that have been co-opted as badges of cool across the market.
If you see a blazer with bomber sleeves or a peacoat-slash-puffer on the runway these days, it’s because Abe did it first—years ago.
For spring, she kicked up her experimentations a notch, designing many of the pieces in her new collection as two-in-ones. What that means is that the dress you see here can morph into a sharply cut sleeveless double-breasted short coat if you pull its hem up over the shoulders.
Look 29 operates on the same principle, only that dress transforms into an MA1 jacket. Ditto the top and pants in Look 26: It’s actually a jumpsuit in army surplus with a built-in silk blouse.
Abe has long loved the interplay of dualities: masculine and feminine, workwear and fancy dress. This season, she put that give-and-take approach in her customers’ own hands. Some pieces come with detachable puffed shoulders; on or off, they change the attitude of the garments in question.
Many designers rallied around the concepts of versatility and adaptability this season, maybe because of the challenging times, we find ourselves in. Abe is among them, but this was simultaneously one of her more sensuous collections of late, with mini lengths, unexpected bareback on ribbed knit sweaters and tweed vests; and silk charmeuse and silk Duchesse in equal measure to the hardier canvas and nylon.
There were also oversize leopard spots and polka dots adding visual interest to the workwear palette. It takes finesse to balance utility on the one hand and seduction on the other, but seeing both sides of a situation is the Abe way.