Chitose Abe, designer of Sacai
Japanese label Sacai has been around for over 15 years (it was founded in 1999 to be exact) so you can imagine my surprise when it suddenly became the hot topic of conversation during many dinners at Paris Fashion Week recently.
And therein lies its allure. Sacai is one of those brands that no matter when you discover it, the clothes always seem fresh, modern and relevant. The secret it seems is designer Chitose Abe’s knack for taking the expected and transforming it into something unexpected. In fact her influence can be seen on the catwalks everywhere this season as designers have experimented with collaging and creating “hybrid” outfits that combine contrasting fabrics, textures and shapes.
It may sound like a luxury DIY project, but Sacai is way more refined and intellectual than that. Chitose herself is a talented designer who trained under gurus like Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe. Sacai was founded after she gave birth to her daughter. Soon she established a reputation for her innovative knits and was being stocked by edgy retailers like 10 Corso Como in Milan, Dover Street Market in London and Joyce here in Hong Kong.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chitose last week when she was in Hong Kong to launch a customization programme at Joyce. In person, she is young, vibrant and loves dressing up. In fact all her the clothes have a certain dressed up element to them without looking fussy and overdone.
Sacai’s spring/summer 2013 women’s collection
Sacai’s designs seem deceptively simple, but not to the trained fashion eye. Chitose takes wardrobe classics, pulls them apart and pieces them back together to create something feminine, unique and effortless to wear. All the clothes have a dual personality and can totally transform depending on which angle you view them from.
The spring/summer 2013 collection illustrates this perfectly. A dress made from embroidered tulle, for example, is actually a jumpsuit while a sweater dress becomes a blouson top and flared skirt from behind. She also plays with volume as seen in the covetable motorcycle jackets and military style parkas that come with peplums at the back. Chitose says her favourite style is a pair of wide legged stiff cotton trousers which transforms into a long maxi skirt at the back. The fabrics are equally innovative (everything is made exclusively for the brand) and includes stiff oxford cottons, sweatshirt knit jerseys, pleated chiffons, lace and thin sheer knit tulle that has been embroidered with a cherry pattern.
Some styles available at Joyce’s customization programme
Indeed Sacai is one of those brands that has to be seen up close in order for you to appreciate its intricacy and beauty. Speaking of which, it’s also worth checking out Sacai’s Lets Play Around programme at Joyce which allows customers to personalise a selection of knitwear including cardigans (with contrasting fabric panels at the back) and sweater dresses. You can choose everything down to the final details from the buttons to the embroidery for your intials.
The Lets Play Around Programme is available at Joyce Lee Gardens and Joyce Pacific Place in Hong Kong until April 2, 2013.