On silver salon chairs set in multiple semi circles, underneath hanging fringe metal curtains that mimicked the set formation, designer Chitose Abe sat her audience down to take in her spring/summer 2104 Sacai show.
Those on hand could be forgiven for thinking that the collection would be something in the realm of the refined and the sophisticated as the setting lead them to believe. Instead the designer took on the world of athletic wear and (as always) turned it on its head.
Her hallmark style is to create hybrid designs out of different types of dress. This time it was tracksuits, mesh fabric, nylon windbreakers, cotton polo shirts and bomber jackets that acted as the foundation of the collection. On top of this Abe would insert the front of an argyle sweater, the bib front of a tuxedo shirt, or added even more volume and texture via fabric fringe. For every trapeze dress there was a pair of wide trousers cut with high slits up the side. And for every boxy jacket there was an elongated top.
Abe sent out her models to do languid laps around the center of each circle, which made it easier for the audience to appreciate all the interesting explorations of volume and the intricate detail work the designer put into each of her ensembles.
However sometimes the volume got away from the designer, like one garment that was so large in the back it looked like the model had actually put on her backpack before her clothes. And the last quarter of the show, when Abe moved away from the urban looks into silk floral prints bursting through tops and dresses, was a jarring change of pace so late in the lineup.
In the end the audience was actually right about this show. It was both refined and sophisticated. Abe just came to it from a sporty perspective. And the result was indeed a pretty winning one.