Sacai’s Sacred Tokyo

Published March 4, 2014

Held yesterday morning in Paris, the Sacai collection opened on a strong note: model Maartje Verhoef walked out clad in a wonderously cozy, over-sized grey yeti coat with a quilted lining, and an almost mauve fur trim around the collars and the sleeves, layered over a high-collared leather jacket and a front-slit tartan skirt.

If this look sounds overwhelmingly detailed, it is because”simple” is not a word that belongs at Sacai. Japanese designer Chitose Abe mixes different textures, materials, and colors within each item she constructs and, most importantly, she does it in a very precise, unified way. “I always begin my designs for Sacai from items that are classic wardrobe staples such as a cardigan sweater, a button down shirt, or a V-neck sweater, and deconstruct these shapes by using different fabrics and combining styles and silhouettes to create a modern version of the familiar,” explains Abe.  “This is a recurring idea throughout the Sacai collection every season.” A jacket might consist of heavy knit, quilted nylon, and printed panels, but it maintains its direction.  Designs are intricate, but never cluttered, and each piece of material has its place. Abe works on a collection until the very last minute: “There are details and finishings that will be adjusted and completed down to the millimeters,” she tells us.

“I am influenced by my daily life, the subtle feelings and even slight discomforts that I experience throughout the day living in Tokyo,” she continues. “I think Tokyo is a unique city where different people and cultures co-exist together and constantly bring forth new ideas. I believe that the Sacai collection is the way it is because I live and design in Tokyo.”

If there is such a thing as a Sacai woman, Abe tells us that she would be “any strong, independent-minded person.” The sort of person who could pull off the label’s signature “hybridization of classical styles and shapes.” While Abe describes the Fall/Winter season as more of a challenge due to its timing, it did not show in her 2014 collection. Confident, comfortable, and cool, Abe’s outwear—from her fur-decorated leather jackets to her Pendleton-esque print wool—stole the show, and we’ve already noted down several looks for our Most Wanted list.