Chitose Abe had approached her SS16 collection like a vintage store, picking up print bandanas, souvenir scarves, Peruvian carpet weaves and old-style rock T-shirts, and then chopping them all up and refiguring them as clothes. These clothes were barely recognisable, though — a doctor of sartorial transplant surgery, Abe had taken every element of the wardrobe and repurposed it: she had hacked into hemlines, waistbands and sleeves, she had hung skirts on trousers and trousers on gowns and jackets on blouses. She had sewn in transparent inserts and pulled bits of fabric through gaping seams: the souvenir scarves were chopped into tiny pieces, embroidered and laser-cut into trousers or slashed to expose neon ruching at the back. (The “bumster”, Alexander McQueen’s “iconic” trouser, which left the top of the buttock exposed and launched the low-slung look in 1996, took on new meaning here.)
Abe had “pushed the distortions” as far as they could go, taking care to preserve the pick-and-mix staples of the vintage boutique: golden embroideries, studded leather jackets reimagined as separates, neckerchiefs and Napoleon jackets. Backstage, Abe was wearing a Paradise Garage T-shirt, an homage to the New York downtown club that catered to a funkier school of 1970s disco than had the uptown Studio 54. It’s a motif she first used for menswear earlier this year, and here its logo was recreated in white embroidery and veiled under chiffon, the humble rock tee elevated to eveningwear.
Abe has kept returning to the club because it, too, was once a platform for chaotic creativity. At Sacai, I sometimes found the hybrids a bit too chaotic, but I liked the sound of her beat.
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