paris fashion week: sacai

(images via vogue)

i’m not, like, a resident expert in designer chitose abe’s label sacai, though indeed we have covered quite a few collections here on opt (see a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), and if i’m at times a little more hesitant on the subject of her designs than some of the fashionies currently rushing forward with all of their strength, then i nevertheless can admit there’s an eternally cool thing going down, and for the a/w 2013 season at paris fashion week, she once again proved her hipster-ironic appeal, combining all of that with english prepster classics. classic, non?

anyway, if some of her layered trench-y coat things felt like a little much to me at times, or her overwhelming tribal-cum-punk-cum-what? looks, like the layered zebra sweater, lacy stockings, snow-y boats, and red-and-black feathered skirt on maria bradley (and this was one of her more demure entrants in that portion of the show) suggested, then her re-envisioning of the classic trench (in its simpler forms) was quite magnificent, as the straightforward teal number on ondria hardin, or when she spliced a red velvet with that same teal checked pattern on a dress version worn by meghan collison. magnifique.

i’d also like to give homegirl some props for her decision to mix the aforementioned wool plaid with a kind of peachy lace, manifesting in its most lovely incarnation on irene hiemstra’s dress, which fell just below the knee, and at once, thanks to its contrasting textile choices, managed to at once convey a sense of delicacy and refinement paired with a sort of no-nonsense strength. i also liked sara blomqvist’s asymmetrically-hemmed blocked trenchcoat, but the likes of fei fei sun and maud welzen got overwhelmed by too much material heaped on a sort of sportif jacket and a mullet skirt that might have doubled as a tent (it featured so much material), respectively.

but! i think we’re alllll aware that what we’d really like is to hear the critics salivate, yes? and so, with that in mind accordingly, style declared that “(h)er trick this season was to choose iconic—predictable, even—Fall staples and spin them into something genuinely desirable. Trenchcoats, English hunting suits, skiwear, and biker jackets were the pieces in question. In Abe’s hands, they looked both familiar and surprising. Take the trench. She broke it down to its elements and fused parts to different garments. A navy velvet dress got an olive-drab cape back and collar, while a navy sweater acquired epaulets and a welted belt.”

meanwhile, the la times rapped out in their staccato way that this was “(h)ybrid fashion with an emphasis on fusing feminine shapes with menswear-inspired tailoring and fabrications such as wool  checks and outdoorsy quilted nylon. A cape-back trench coat dress with a velvet front. Mixed plaid and silk pleated skirt. Nordic-style Fair Isle sweater-coats decorated with feathers. Ochre-colored lace biker jacket with green windowpane check peplum. A fur, nylon and windowpane-check bomber jacket worn over skinny pants with nylon inserts. Quilted nylon spats worn over boots.”

“The silhouettes were grounded in tailoring, relatively straightforward in the front with nice dramatic volumes in the back,” relayed wwd. “The first look fused a trompe l’oeil velvet dress with a caped-back trench in army green — one of Abe’s many inventive propositions for novelty outerwear that could actually have a future in reality. Other standouts included the sturdy wool plaids, such as a boxy top with a navy cape back, worn over matching slim pants with sporty nylon inserts. Zebra-striped knits and new takes on Fair Isle sweaters, some done with feather and fringe details, offered a wintery edge, which was a nice evolution from Abe’s often sweet and girly mode.”

and vogue rejoined that “After adjusting your eye, what emerged was in essence a modern rendition of the LBD. To add to that rich texture, men’s suiting fabrics and the traditional sports coat was cleverly turned inside-out, fused with the casual cool of a bomber jacket and finished with an undulating peplum. The playful flutter of lingerie is never too far away at Sacai, and lace panels were often peeking out from between the pleats of a skirt, or collaged into the backs of sweaters. Combining the feminine and the masculine in the space of one coat is something Abe does with such a skilled hand that even her most intricate wintery remixes looked easy and light.”

then, finally, it was the iht‘s suzy menkes, describing how “Chitose Abe excelled herself in giving polish and variety to her long-held idea of the masculine/feminine sides of women playing out on the front and back of an outfit. But instead of the sweet lace back to a more rigorous skirt front, this season she had developed the idea with rare skill. Curving mirrors behind the models told the back story, primarily the current hot mix of different fabrics so that a tweed coat or a velvet dress might have a puffa back. One plaid jacket would be inset with padded nylon, while another had tangerine-colored lace appliquéd on a similar wool. Even knitting was given the same treatment as a tiger pattern morphed into fringe and lace.”

(enjoy the fashion show video here)

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