The chic tweed ensembles, gossamer dresses, and fantasy-provoking designs seen during Haute Couture Week in Paris put a well-deserved spotlight on craftsmanship and handwork. Even if you don’t have anywhere to wear these clothes at the moment (if at all), they are undeniably fun to look at.
Regardless of COVID restrictions – and whether or not you’re living in a mainly virtual world – we all periodically leave the house, run errands, and keep necessary appointments. We may not need ballgowns, but we could all use thoughtfully designed clothes that function, empower, impart confidence, and make us feel like the best version of ourselves — daily.
“Functionality is key. I like to have fun with ideas, so naturally, pieces can have an artistic edge, but they’re not art pieces at the end of the day. They may look like art pieces in a fashion show, but they must be wearable. This synergy creates something new”Chitose Abe
Sacai always resonates with me. Not many designers can turn streetwear into covetable, wearable art like Chitose Abe. Her Fall 2022 menswear and pre-fall 2022 womenswear collections were shown together one day before the beginning of Paris Haute Couture Week. While it’s not Haute Couture, it’s close.
Speaking of Couture, last July, Chitose was invited to guest design the Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2021 Haute Couture Collection. Her “hybridization” (deconstructions) is Chitose’s signature, but her impeccable tailoring innovative fabrications are what inspired this corroboration.
Watching the recent collections unfold, I’m often left wondering what planet these designers are living on? The Sacai pre-fall collection stands out for me with its compelling immediacy and modernity. I look at Abe’s superb and incredibly well-constructed outerwear and unique knitwear and think – “I want it now!”
Sacai creates with modern women in mind. She mixes casual sportswear with elevated tailoring. Functionality is always key. There is an air of femininity in Abe’s clothes yet always tough and gutsy – never girlie in a traditional way. An element of surprise is part of the appeal.
Lingerie touches and bra details are all over the runways these days, but this is nothing new for Abe, who included bits of exposed lingerie in her earliest Sacai collections. She debuted her label, Sacai (a variation on her maiden name, Sakai), from her home with a handful of knits in 1999. By 2009 Abe was showing in Paris.
This season, Abe created a new silhouette for women by building lingerie into men’s jackets. The fronts of the jackets are seamed with bra cups while the backs are gathered at the bra line giving the jackets that signature peplumed shape. Another essential item in the collection is the long pencil skirt. Abe folded a wool skirt accordion style and then cut it. The result resembles mesh or macramé, a new open netting style.
Miki Higasa, Founder/President of Kaleidoscope Consulting, represents Sacai. As she notes, “It takes a lot for Abe to make these clothes. There is much complexity in the patterns and creations, but ultimately, the final product is always easy to put on.” Ms. Higasa observes that Chitose never really thinks about trends. Her clothes are REALLY well made and they last a long time. The appeal is cross-generational.
Sandy Schreier is a fan and a customer of the iconic label. The celebrated collector, author, and fashion historian agrees that Sacai is one of the best collections she has seen these past few weeks. Sandy reports her only major purchase since the pandemic is a Sacai coat. “It’s incredible, wearable art, and when I wore it, I felt like I was Sandy Schreier again.”
What more can you ask of fashion?
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