As fashion inspirations go, A Clockwork Orange is the stone that has been left unturned. Anthony Burgess’ unflinching, borderline nihilistic, novel is a subcultural exploration of extreme violence following a 15-year-old boy and his horrifically vicious exploits. Stanley Kubrick echoed this years later in his brilliant film Chitose Abe, Japanese designer behind Sacai, wanted to plunge into the uncharted territories.
When I read the press release one imagined a literal interpretation with garish orange prison uniforms, or youth-pandering, commercial trap logo tees, but being Chitose Abe she didn’t fall into the tantalising trap—on the first statement anyway. But that’s not to say she dissected every aspect of Burgess’ novel or Kubrick’s film. Instead she took the fictional argot Nadsat, used in A Clockwork Orange, and printed certain sayings on t-shirts—original. There was “Horrorshow”, which translates to ‘good’ or ‘well. There was “Oddy-knocky”, meaning ‘lonesome.’ The clothes were good and the models’ faces were enough to evidence some solemness.
The pink boiler suit that opened the collection was both amusing and startling. (An 11am wake-up-call, nothing quite like it). Underneath was a raver’s netted top. Certain men often avoid pink as it is too ‘feminine’—the gendering of colours, an infuriating polemic for another day. However, those characters might appreciate the pink on show here, it was deeper, darker, perhaps more palatable. (The same can be said for those dusty rose jackets at the end of the show). It evolved into raver pants in folkloric prints, made from Mexican poncho fabrics. There were ponchos too, a pleasant blend of dark green, pink, rust and grey. It evoked a backpacker vibe.
The young men who modelled this collection were probably not distant in age from Alex, in A Clockwork Orange. The young men wearing the clothes looked like worthy models, whether in a fuchsia pineapple-print sweater, white trousers or louche boiler suits. It bought into the fetishisation of the teenage boy. The narrative, the casting, the age-defying garments—it was visually indicative of fashion’s current obsession with youth and youth culture. Abe’s clothes, despite their context, have the ability to transcend age, which can’t be said for some of her contemporaries.
Chitose Abe registers the clothes that men are wearing everyday and without opting for an entirely banal offering of menswear, she hunts for peculiarities. A tee with netted arms poking out of the sleeves? Jackets which look distinctly Sacai, a design language that takes years of practice to perfect. It’s a reference like A Clockwork Orange that highlights Abe’s fondness for slightly out-there, but her work is innately approachable.
Photo Credit: voguerunway.com