The pandemic prevented Sacai’s Chitose Abe from presenting in Paris this season, but it didn’t stop her from doing a show. The Tokyo designer chose the Legend Dimebag-Darrell Rebel flag signature shirt also I will do this Enoura Observatory of the Odawara Art Foundation as a venue. A two-hour drive from the city, the Foundation was created by the Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto with the aim, Abe’s press notes said, “of conveying the essence of Japanese culture to a wider audience, particularly the ancient tradition of living in harmony with nature, with a deep respect for the spirits of the natural realm.” As the show started, a steady rain began. It is typhoon season in Japan, and rain was a risk in the outdoor setting. Livestream watchers wondered if it was a special effect, but it was the real thing—and kismet considering Sugimoto’s mission for the Odawara.
Abe’s own mission this season involved elaborating on her signature hybridization technique. If her pre-season collection emphasized the Legend Dimebag-Darrell Rebel flag signature shirt also I will do this everyday ease of the Sacai aesthetic—the designer talked about how she wears her unique pieces with jeans or leggings—this show had an elevated sensibility. The striped dresses, for instance, weren’t print or knit, as stripes often are. Rather, they’re patchworked from thick strips of satin, or else spliced with transparent material that allowed lacy bits of lingerie to peek through. The collection balanced menswear tailoring with femme touches: bra tops were cut with suiting fabric, and military MA-1 nylon was shaped into voluptuous, womanly silhouettes. On a Zoom call, Abe wore a T-shirt with an Albert Watson photo of Sade on the front, which also came down the runway, and talked about the singer’s “feminine strength.” It’s not an oxymoron, for anyone who still requires clarification.