Sacai’s Chitose Abe Tapped To Design Jean Paul Gaultier’s Next Couture Collection

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Chitose Abe & Jean Paul Gaultier

French fashion house Jean Paul Gaultier announced a new strategy for its haute couture division of the brand, saying that the brand will invite a new designer each season to interpret the codes of the Paris-based house after the exit of its founding designer who showed his last collection in January. Japanese designer Chitose Abe from sacai is the first designer to participate in the new project and will showcase her collection for the house in July during the bi-annual couture week.

“The idea of different designers interpreting one Haute Couture brand came to me in the nineties for a Parisian Haute Couture House who found itself without a designer. I am pleased that this concept will become reality now with Chitose Abe of Sacai as the first guest designer,” the Jean Paul Gautlier house said in a statement.

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Mr. Gaultier presented his final couture collection in January after 50 years in the industry. His impeccably tailored creations brings together elements from subculture with high fashion and throughout his career he has returned to leitmotifs that have defined his aesthetics including the sailor stripes, corsetry, tartan, tuxedos and white shirts. His legions of fans include Dita Von Teese and Madonna, who famously wore his conical bras during her infamous 1990 “Blonde Ambition” tour. The French designer staged his first runway show in 1978 and was labelled “l’enfant terrible” early in his career for his subversive ideas. He showed overt sexuality on his runways, championed androgyny and introduced the man-skirt. He was also one of the early adopters of inclusive casting, using plus size models and people from all different ethnic backgrounds.

Abe, who cut her teeth as a pattern cutter at Comme Des Garcons, started her label sacai in 1999 and has honed her aesthetics of splicing two items of clothes together to create a hybrid garment. Her fresh vernacular has propelled her into one of the most innovative and important voices in Japanese fashion and streetwear. Fans of her work include Gwenyth Paltrow, Elle Fanning and model Kaia Gerber. The brand showcases its collections in Paris every season and has several collaborations under its belt including an ongoing one with Nike that started in 2014.

“I have a long held admiration for Jean Paul’s unique vision of subversive femininity and his originality, both of which I’ve strived towards in my work since the beginning. It’s a true honor to be given the opportunity to be a custodian of his house as the first designer of this project,” Abe said.

No details have been released about how she will interpret the brand. This is the first time Abe will design a couture collection and the house has confirmed that she will have complete control.

Gautlier’s strategy follows in the footsteps of Emilio Pucci who invited Cristelle Koché to design its Fall 2020 collection that made debuted in Milan last month, and Moncler whose Genius project invites a new buzzy designer each season to create a capsule collection that amalgamates the sports brand’s DNA into his or her aesthetic.