Some 16 years since she quietly launched her brand in Tokyo, Chitose Abe has made a break for the mainstream – beginning a few years ago with her entrée into Paris Fashion Week and now with her first monobrand store outside Tokyo, launched in Hong Kong.
Abe’s elegant patterns and complex cuts – though easier and breezier than the Comme des Garçons lines of her former boss Rei Kawakubo – are now as accessible as her luxury neighbours, among the marble storefronts of On Lan Street in Hong Kong’s Central district. Abe and her creative team designed the boutique on 150 square metres, dramatically set back from the pavement by a foyer of concrete. Behind a wall of double-height glazing, a system of feature walls and voids bring to the fabric of the store the sort of architectural interest Abe is known for. 'I wanted to demonstrate the character of Sacai in the new store,' says the designer, 'by fusing different materials and elements into classical items.'
To wit: a palette of concrete brick and cobalt marble, executed in a labyrinth of ailses and rooms, mirrors the urban fabric of this chaotic commercial street near the pier, with five-metre ceilings echoing the extreme heights of the surrounding towers. Splashes of taxi yellow peek out from sculptural clothing rails and wood-framed chairs with concrete-block seats designed by Ryota Morikawa, founder of the Japanese art collective Gelchop. They create a delightful and unexpected juxtaposition that jives with the sensibility of the Spring/Summer range.
Speaking of which, Abe has designed an exclusive capsule collection for the On Lan store, featuring cardigans and sweater dresses with peek-a-boo panels of eyelet lace – classic items fused with the unexpected. That’s the Sacai spirit.