Much like the Sacai brand itself, innovation was the game-changing ideology running (or storming rather) down Chitose Abe’s spring runways. With nods to classic and pop culture idols—from Picasso to Gainsbourg to Cobain—the designer fused their famed idiosyncrasies into “all-in-one looks”. Breton stripes walked with berets and band shirts.

Holt Promo
Holt Promo

It’s this hybrid aesthetic, an artful negotiation between surprise and stability, we see as classic Abe. Taking basic, beloved pieces like button-downs, trench coats and tees—or in the case of spring 2017, immortalized icons—and transforming them into something completely unordinary. A peekaboo, a pleat, an out-of-control proportion: it’s all game. Even all at once.

But for someone who meddles in subversion, Abe has carved out a uniquely wearable niche, where beyond the street-cool look, comfort is still essential. “The most important thing to me is balance,” she says. “I create something original, that doesn’t exist anywhere else, but even if something is incredibly flashy and impactful, I wouldn’t be happy if people couldn’t wear my clothes on the streets.”

It’s the daily mix on the streets of Tokyo where Abe finds much of her inspiration and desire for balance. “The lifestyle of Japanese people is very special and unique. For example, someone who goes shopping at a high-end boutique could go out for fast food, or to a party after working all day without going home to change.” For Abe, it’s a fusion that’s amusing and always authentic. “I enjoy mixing different pieces and letting them have various respects, just like the people [who wear them].”

As a mother who’s helmed her own international label for the past 18 years, overseeing everything from design to payroll, Abe is as varied as her vision, and her clientele. A clientele she challenges to find their own way. To deftly straddle the line between expected and novel. Because, after all, that’s just the Sacai way.

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