Barneys New York Fashion Director Tomoko Ogura recently sat down with Sacai designer Chitose Abe during Paris Fashion Week, where Abe had just shown her 13-year-old label’s most recent collection. The designer, who worked with Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe before striking out on her own, has garnered a loyal following thanks to clothes that are never boring yet always wearable.


Tomoko Ogura: What is the meaning of the name Sacai? 

Chitose Abe: My maiden name is Sakai, so it is based on this, but I changed the spelling slightly.

Tomoko: What should we know about the Spring 2013 collection?

Chitose: As with most of my collections, I usually center the collection around classic and traditional categories and merge them with contrasting ideas to create completely new shapes and silhouettes. This time, I used workwear elements and mixed them with refined or feminine fabrics and shapes.

TomokoWho or what inspires you?

Chitose: I usually do not start with a concept as many designers may do. Rather, I am often inspired by my day-to-day life and surroundings. It’s important to me that the clothes are interesting, but I also want them to be easy to wear.

TomokoWho do you envision the Sacai woman to be?

Chitose: I envision any independent-minded woman who gets pleasure wearing my clothes.

TomokoI feel a signature of Sacai is the reinvention of the expected in an unexpected way. We use the word modern a lot in fashion, does that have any significance to you?

Chitose: Yes, the signature of Sacai is indeed about reinvention of the expected in unexpected ways. If this is how modern is interpreted, as something new (I realize that this word can be interpreted in different ways), I do wish to be modern.

TomokoYou often cut classic styles in surprising and unusual fabric combinations, giving them a new life without compromising the integrity of the garments; is this something that factors into your design process?

Chitose: This is very important to me: to create new shapes and silhouettes with interesting forms of volume. However, within this process, finding and creating fabrics that enable me to achieve this process plays an integral role as well.

TomokoAnd finally, what is your favorite meal in Paris?

Chitose: Kunitoraya’s udon noodles.

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Runway images courtesy of | Portrait of Chitose Abe by Shoji Uchida