• Meet CHITOSE ABE – fashion’s new front runner and Karl Lagerfeld’s “designer of the moment”. By JANE McFARLAND

    In a season where deluxe sportswear swept the runways, one designer stood out to become fashion’s most unlikely new star. Labeled “the most interesting designer of the moment” by Karl Lagerfeld, this is not some 25-year-old wunderkind from downtown NYC or London’s East End. The founder and owner of Sacai, Chitose Abe, is a 48-year-old from Tokyo. And she is simply doing what she has always done: innovating with fabric and cut.

    “For SS14 I wanted to create a sports-like material from a finer fabric, so I introduced a new perforated cotton,” explains Abe. “Fabric is crucial to Sacai. Ours is made exclusively in Japan, so it is

    always the starting point.”

    But it was the way Abe cut those fabrics – into exquisitely deconstructed tracksuits and duchesse-satin sweatshirts – that has set the seal on her success. Not that she is interested in the latter – Abe has been in the fashion industry for almost 20 years without chasing popularity. After working as a pattern cutter at Comme des Garçons, she was selected by Junya Watanabe to join his avant-garde brand as a designer in 1992. It was there that she conceived the idea of her own

    BASIC INSTINCT
    The designer (right) focuses on essential pieces like the shirt and bomber jacket

    AVANT-GARDE
    Abe (far left) uses innovative fabric combinations within classic designs

    Credits

    Words: Jane McFarland. Photographs: ASP, Garance Dore

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