Siki Im S/S 15

September 7th, 2014

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Siki Im S/S 2015

Born in Germany to Korean parents, the designer Siki Im has always had an innate ability to combine two halves into a greater whole. For Spring 2015, that dichotomy melded the robotic and the romantic in a collection aptly titled “Human/Machine.” The mood board backstage was a study of contrasts, with schematics of robot toys pinned above fluttering sheets of tie-dye, their prominent wrinkles a clear reminder of handmade craftsmanship. The result was a mixture of sturdy shapes and all-too-human imperfections, reflected in the irreproducible tie-dye prints, the frayed edges, the uneven stripes, the mismatched footwear.

Im has always brought a weighty intellectualism to his designs, and it’s not for nothing that his show notes include both a syllabus and a list of references—which in this case ranged from Wall-E and Walter Benjamin to George Orwell and Futurist founder F.T. Marinetti. But what sets Im apart from other designers who casually toss off the names of great thinkers and artists as inspirations is both his rigor and his sense of human frailty, which keep his designs from feeling overly academic. Im’s latest collection faces a fashion industry—and a world—that is changing, thanks to technology, at the speed of light, and asks not just what we should be wearing, but why we will continue to wear it. But this wasn’t a case of future shock—the clothes were not sci-fi pastiches, but rather a plea for human connection. There were softly swinging coats, rustling tunics, and flowing trousers. When they stripped down for the finale, the models were left bare chested, present and forceful in all their vulnerability.

Siki Im S/S 2015
Stylist: David Vandewal
Hair: James Pecis (New York: D + V Management, London: D + V Management )
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey (New York: D + V Management, London: D + V Management )
Casting: John Tan

Review: Jonathan Shia

Backstage photos by Betty Sze
Runway photos by Kirt Reynolds

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Siki Im F/W 14

February 12th, 2014

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Siki Im
Fall / Winter
2014

The menswear designer Siki Im has always had a compelling artistic bent, one that he took to new heights with his Fall 2014 collection, which was inspired by the avant-garde cultural and artistic movements of the Seventies. The clothes—nearly all black or shades of gray—had a rigorous power to them, and there was a slight Germanic feel to many of the designs, like Paul Boche’s strong leather biker jacket or Anders Hayward’s double-breasted blazer that splayed open at the bottom. The main material was wool, whether in thick weaves like Chris Beek’s ribbed robe or the raw felt—inspired by the Fluxus artist Joseph Beuys—that gave heft to Abel van Oeveren’s peacoat. There was a strong, elegant outerwear component as well, one that proved that Im’s thoughts were not just focused on the provocative youths of the period. Félix Gesnouin’s fur-collared overcoat had a classic Old World flair, and Yu Fangqing’s coat had a speckled look that was appropriately called “noise.” Im also, as is his wont, stretched the limits of the fashion show into performance art of a sort, as the illustrator Richard Haines, well-known for his runway sketches, took to several of the pieces backstage with white pastel, chalking faces, hands, and other figures onto the sturdy designs. A hand stretched playfully across the pocket of Miles Langford’s bomber jacket, an arm reached down the sleeve of Kristoffer Hasslevall’s blazer, and a face loomed from the back of Laurie Harding’s oversized coat. Watching Haines at work backstage, as he sketched closing model Adam Butcher’s hunched-over figure onto the back of a jacket, served as a powerful reminder that, for the most creative designers, the clothes you see coming down the runway reveal but a small fraction of the thought and effort that went into them.

Designer Siki Im
Styling by David Vandewal
Hair by James Pecis (London: D + V Management , New York: D + V Management)
Makeup by Benjamin Puckey (New York: D + V Management, London: D + V Management )
Casting by John Tan

Siki Im Fall/Winter 2014

Review by Jonathan Shia
Photos by Betty Sze

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Siki Im Fall/Winter 2013

February 14th, 2013

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Siki Im Fall/Winter 2013

Siki Im has always been one to straddle the line between fashion and art, and his Fall 2013 collection was another winner. The look was sleek and sharp, whether in Baptiste Radufe’s overlong cardigan or Benjamin Jarvis’ camel overcoat. Pulling inspiration from Italo Calvino’s postmodern classic If on a winter’s night a traveler, Im crafted a show with a cool, intellectual air, with rounded sunglasses and hair packed with patches of color like a Jean Arp collage. There was a smooth purity to the clothes, down to the palette of mostly black. The silhouette was long and lean, starting with Yuri Pleskun’s opening coat. Im emphasized his outerwear this time around, with leather jackets, clean overcoats, and wraps and robes in a rich purple. The collection also served as a study of materials, with leather and cotton playing off soft knits and a shimmering high-tech silver. Im also established a dialogue between Calvino’s mind games and the iconic early-20th-century portraiture of August Sander, whose images of German workers inspired the sturdy aprons the models donned before returning for the finale. It was a characteristically deep and thought-through production from Im, but the clothes gave off an easy elegance, unafraid of their precocity and revealing in their beautiful simplicity.

Photos: Betty Sze backstage / Stephan Moskovic runway
Text: Jonathan Shia

Siki Im Fall/Winter 2013
Stylist: David Vandewal
Hair: James Pecis
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey
Casting: John Tan
Press: Nouveau PR

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Siki Im S/S 13

September 10th, 2012

Siki Im S/S 13

For Spring 2013, the starkly minimalist designer Siki Im took inspiration from the life of painter Georgia O’Keeffe, a visionary spirit of the American West who spent much of her time in her later life working in the parched expanses of New Mexico’s desert. Deer skulls—a favored O’Keeffe idée fixe—appeared as an oversized abstract print, while clay and bone necklaces also played on the organic theme. But the collection was, as a whole, less about her art and imagery than about herself and the clean lines she often donned for her husband Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs. Im has always been known for his cleanliness, which here took on an air almost of asceticism, in the flowing drapery of the floor-length A-line skirts, the softness of the knit sweaters, the sturdiness of Jeremy Young’s leather vest. The boys wore nubby wool socks with their Teva sandals, and had their hair packed down above the neck with a crumbling clay that was also evocative of a sere landscape. There was a clever variety of shapes and forms, some soft and rounded with sloping shoulders, others built up to a sharp angle. The models all returned shirtless for the finale, an effect that in other hands would be cause for wolf whistles, but here felt more like a purification down to the most basic simplicity.

Designer: Siki Im
Stylist: David Vandewal
Hair: James Pecis
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey
Casting: John Tan

Text: Jonathan Shia
Images: Betty Sze for Models.com

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Antonio Azzuolo F/W 2012

February 17th, 2012

Antonio Azzuolo Fall/Winter 2012

Antonio Azzuolo‘s Fall 2012 collection was one of the young designer’s strongest yet, displaying a talent for tailoring and construction in a number of elegant pieces that were strong and striking in their proportions and color combinations. Azzuolo, formerly part of the Hermès design team, is a rising star, recently nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fun award, and his strengths were obvious in this cohesive and tightly-edited collection. A number of kimonos were inspired by a recent trip to Japan, and looked almost as practical as the smooth belted overcoat in Azzuolo’s hands.

Photos: Betty Sze
Text: Jonathan Shia

Designer Antonio Azzuolo
Stylist: David Vandewal
Hairstylist: Teddy Charles
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey
Casting: John Tan

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Siki Im F/W 2012

February 14th, 2012

Siki Im Fall/Winter 2012

Siki Im made a trip back to his youth for Fall 2012, returning to his youthful interest in American culture and American brands during the mid-90s when he played basketball in Germany and aspired to the heights of Michael Jordan’s success. The result was a collection that played with this season’s penchant for athletics-inspired pieces while still maintaining the sharp forms and minimalist aesthetic that Im is known for. Cable-knit tank tops had the shape of basketball jerseys, and cotton fleece made its appearance in a series of sweatshirts and pants that looked comfortable and easy without losing their structure. A number of shirts drifted down to mid-thigh, echoing the exaggeratedly loose fit of most NBA uniforms two decades ago, and burgundy cemented its status as one of the season’s most popular hues. James Pecis’ hair was inspired David Beckham and Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago, while Benjamin Puckey gave the models a gloss for a slightly sweaty, post-workout look. Showing in a high school gymnasium was just the icing on the cake.

Runway photos: Stephan Moskovic
Backstage photos: Betty Sze
Text: Jonathan Shia

Casting: John Tan
Stylist: David Vandewal
Hair: James Pecis
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey

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Siki Im

February 2nd, 2012

Siki Im / A models.com interview

From its effortlessly multi-cultural world view to its deeply thought presentations, the Siki Im label has been distinct and eye-catching over the past two years. What catches the eye about the eponymous line created by Im, is the details, subtlety and clarity of vision that infuses the clothes with an aesthetic that is practical and at the same time philosophical. Born and raised in Germany, Im studied at the Oxford School Of Architecture before moving to New York where he worked with the architectural firm Archi-tectonics, after which he segued into the fashion industry, working as designer at Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang. The great virtue of Im’s clothes is that despite their apparent simplicity, his precision cut pieces already have a unique vocabulary that makes his work stand out in sharp relief on the New York fashion scene. MDX sat down with Mr. Im for this exclusive interview in which he outlined his design ethos with a dextrous mix of insight and humor.

A models.com interview by Wayne Sterling

Cover photo: details at Siki Im’s studio by Stephan Moskovic
Photos: Stephan Moskovic + Betty Sze
All looks from Siki Im S/S 2012
Model: Duco Ferwerda
Casting by: John Tan
With a special thanks to John Tan

How do you feel about New York City as a general creative environment, Siki?

Whoah! We’re really plunging in there aren’t we? (laughs) The reason why New York is New York is because it’s all about money. Not only fashion but everything; advertising agencies, film, art. Which is good right? But also it takes a lot of the other elements away and I think you can see it in the general New York landscape. Though in terms of architecture… I moved here 10 years ago, and in the last 5 or 6 years there has been better architecture… better buildings. Before, it was just pretty much developers throwing up these buildings without much thought. The reason why I think there are better buildings, is that in the peak time of the economic boom, if you didn’t know how to make your building sell, you’d get a big architect for his name. Or some designer name, slap it on there and raise the price… another 10 million.

Much like fashion. A big part of your back story was that you studied architecture before coming to fashion design.

I did study architecture and worked in an architect’s office for a while. So I appreciate buildings. Anyone can talk about buildings, just by looking in the street. People always say there are cross references of my design with architecture, which is… I don’t really know.

What led you to the idea of making clothes?

It was less of an idea and more of an accident… more of a coincidence. I didn’t really plan it. It just fell in my lap. I was just naive enough to try it. I wish I could say it was an epiphany, but it wasn’t. It was a gradual process. I met this amazing stylist, David Vanderwal. He was a design director. We met and he really got me into fashion. I tried it out and really enjoyed it. It took me a really long time to call myself a fashion designer. Probably because of my insecurity as an architect… you think that architecture is the premier language of design and anything else is just crap or superficial (laughs). Now I just say that I’m a designer .

And yet we live in a culture where design pervades everything!

Oh, everybody does everything now. Model-slash-photographer-slash-DJ. It’s part of our society where things are cross-cultural and hybrid. There are less boundaries and less fear! There are a lot of good things. Like the Internet. There are also a lot of scary things. But you’re right. We certainly are talking about some deep stuff today. (laughs)

Yes, this interview gets filed in the models.com “Deep Thinking” division. To counteract our everyday use of ironic vapidity. You say you’ve been in New York for 10 years, where did you come from?

I was born and grew up in Germany and then went to university in England. Then came from England, here, to New York in September 2001, one week after 9/11.
I came before to visit and hang out around 95-96. I was really into music. I was into graffiti. It was the Rock Steady Crew 10th anniversary in the Bronx. I had no idea and just went there with my bags and sketch book. I remember also around that time I went to Tonic and saw Sonic Youth. It was really sketchy… the Lower East Side then. But I can’t tell you any CBGB stories or anything.

Very few people from those days can hope to remember.

(laughs)

Going from Cologne to New York was that culture shock?

I went to England and THAT was culture shock. Going from Germany to England I thought it was going to be very similar because of the weather. But it was a real culture shock.

This was London?

Oxford. It was really different. I was really surprised at how it showed me how naive I was. Then from Oxford to New York, it took me a few years to fathom that I really was in New York. It felt like a movie. Generally you work so much here , you don’t have time to chill. You work, work, work and then it’s a few years later.

How long have you been producing the Siki Im line?

We launched it in 2009 for Spring ’10. We had what I’d call “performances”… kind of inter-active presentations. It was great. We had the first one in the Meatpacking District, next to the Diane Von Furstenburg space. It was a construction site when there were still meat packing factories in the neighbourhood. For some reason we got in there and we had the whole building and it was really sketchy. It was dirty with dead rats everywhere. It was just… I remember we burnt so much incense in there to get the stink out. But the experience was ultimately a great one for me. You felt like you were in this bunker in East Berlin. Or Bushwick (laughs). So since then, every season we have been doing some performance-slash-presentation. Last season was our first runway show. The second show had been in a deconstructed office space. Then afterwards the garage space . Then there was the Indian theme. Last season was the “Arab Spring” runway show.

A lot of that evokes the idea of an underground happening in New York. Which is a great tradition dating back to the Beat Generation and the Warhol factory and all that. Do you find there is still that underground ideal alive and well ?

It’s hard you know, because usually you’d want to try to keep it underground. But how do you keep it underground these days when there is all this social media? I still believe there probably is a music sub-culture and these kids are super-intense and you don’t even know it. They don’t want you to know about it. I just hope I’m not too old to react to it. In terms of an art and fashion underground… Definitely not, as everything is based on PR and marketing. They want to say “underground” but I don’t think there really are any underground designers because it is a business. Art is a business, fashion is a business, at the end of the day, right? You want to make it creative and cool but I think the next underground might be in somewhere unexpected. Maybe in Wisconsin.

Somewhere in Wisconsin is this mythic genius producing some new beats that will be a revolution. Whereas it used to be the Bronx.

(laughs) Yes, exactly. I appreciate those kind of things. You’ve been in New York for so long, so you’ve seen the real New York ’90s.

Oh yeah. I remember seeing casting call posters for Larry Clark’s “Kids” and all of us went, “Who’s this Larry Clark?” But it’s movies like that which make people dream of coming to New York.

Very true! That movie man! “Kids” is definitely one of my favorite movies. All my friends now think New York is all “Sex In The City”. For me, “Kids”, “Taxi Driver,” all those New York movies made you romanticize this city.

It’s like you said though, unless there is an underground that is no press, no twitter , no pictures… how do you keep it…”rare”?

I know, I mean we don’t have a Twitter and we are fine with keeping it less visible… and more controlled… more aware and sensitive about the issues of social media. I’m not against it at all. I think it’s really great but I think sometimes it takes away the real essence of what you’re trying to do.

I’ve noticed this new sentiment that there’s a certain kind of designer or brand that works best when the person, the buyer, discovers it for themselves. As opposed to having it pushed to them. Rick Owens being a great great example of that .

I know… it’s someone who has an integrity and a vision… an attitude and an opinion. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong. Just have an opinion or point of view. And stand behind it.
Rick Owens is great. All those designers who try to keep it real but still make it a business and keep it alive are great. Because it’s not easy.

Your clothes are hard to stereotype because it shifts a little each season.

In my opinion, which is very subjective because it is my brand, I like that each season that it has a different story. I like to learn more stuff for myself. But I do believe at the end of the day, it’s pretty much similar clothes. Just packaged differently. Meaning, you will always see certain silhouettes and certain staple design details. Because it’s still what I like.

You won’t radically change direction?

No. I’ll style it differently. We’ll have an Indian Theme. A Wall Street theme. The Immigrant theme. But no matter what, I hope it still has the same kind of brand identity. Usually we choose a certain kind of model for the story of the season, almost like the casting of a movie. But if you take away the make-up and the smoke and mirrors, I still think it’s consistent. Or at least I hope so.

How do you manage the challenge of store buyers who want you to vary the line in a more extreme way ?

It’s a fine line. Every season you are trying to present a fresh new perspective. For me, I try to design something fresh and new so I don’t get bored. But on the other hand I aim to keep my storyline or plot. I’m very aware it. Sometimes I think it might be a little too subtle to see the similarities.

Do you see extending the Siki Im story into advertising? The magazine ads… the billboards and posters?

We’re a young brand so I’m not sure we need advertising per se. Secondly, maybe in 10 years I’ll think differently… but it is exactly what we talked about before. I don’t want to push our brand in someone’s face. I believe there’s more depth in the customer finding it. But you have to be smart and also do interviews with people like you (laughs).

Well it is not like you sent us a PR blast. We saw your shows and became excited. Organically.

Thank you. It’s why I like Betty so much (Ed. note: Betty Sze, managing editor at models.com). She supported us without me saying anything and it is something I really appreciate. Your coverage had those Hipstamatic shots which were a really interesting angle too on the show. There’s something to be said for “No PR is PR”… like the old school Margiela. I just want to be careful and be controlled in how I put it out there. On the one hand I don’t want to PR it all over the place, but on the other hand we have to sustain. People don’t know us. It’s still a very young brand. There has to be a fine line.

We are coming out of a phase where the luxury conglomerates would scan the young designer scene to see who they could move into those big brand labels. Is the idea of making an alignment with a big company appealing to you?

I think those guys are really smart. And I don’t think they would approach me right now (laughs)… maybe in a couple of years. But let’s dream that someone like that comes and knocks on the door. It’s very seductive. Because you could push to the next level and you would have all these resources. But then you have these board members you have to report to. You have to show numbers.. The real side to it is you have to have a sell through. You have to have a budget and projections. So then the pressure level goes up. Then probably I start thinking… OK… I have to make more t-shirts. To hit those numbers gets to be scary. Then you have fear and then suddenly you lose courage and faith and start designing a different way. Which could easily lead to something different from how I tried to build the essence of my brand. This is why the Helmut Langs and Jil Sanders that got bought ended up in a falling out. There’s good and bad things to the scenario. You just have to be smart. And have a good lawyer. Or maybe one day I’ll just sell it out and make baby clothes.

The Siki Im fragrance! The Siki Im underwear! The keychain!

I would love to! Actually I love that stuff. I love accessories. A Siki Im computer would be great (laughs) . It’s all a part of designing. You just have to be careful, is the thing. It could easily become so loud and lose its identity.

Will we ever see you marketing yourself as the cool scenester with the must-crash Fashion Week after-party?

I think I partied really hard a long time ago. I just moved to Brooklyn and I like it so… Listen, I like to go out dancing but the thing is that all has to do with your own personality. Of course I was thinking of doing an after-party after my show but I’m so exhausted afterwards I just want to go home. I admire those people who have the energy… to have another event to produce. I should go to more events. It is a part of the business. To hang out and have your picture taken with good names.

Even architects have to do that now.

Everyone! Artists. Scientists.

What’s your take on retail given your architecture background?

We had the opportunity to do one last year with Boffo. We collaborated with two brothers who are architects, super-cool and smart and fun. We did this temporary space, like a pop-up store. I remember when I was in university and Commes des Garçons was doing their guerilla store I remembered thinking… whoah that’s so cool!

There were other brands who did this before but Commes des Garçons had such good marketing, they really were definitive. Then everybody, even Target had to do the pop up store.

I fully understand the wisdom of growing Siki Im very slowly and carefully but do you have a vision of the brand as one day being global ?

Sure. The retail space… womenswear… definitely again creating buildings, are in my long term plans. My dream is to have an all around design firm, designing anything. Music. Posters. Water bottles. (laughs)

Which is a fashion essential in its own right. Thank you so much Siki for your openness and humor. I really enjoyed talking to you!

No, I have to thank you guys for all your support! I really appreciate it.

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Siki IM S/S 2012

September 13th, 2011

After sending out lessons in immigration and Native American culture in previous seasons, Siki Im—one of the most consistently intellectual designers working in New York today—titled his Spring 2012 collection “The Topography of Globalization.” In a study of the impact of Americanization and its attendant cultural hegemony, Im also introduced his DEN IM line, a capsule collection of three different silhouettes of the most all-American of clothing staples, jeans. Referencing the spread of democracy through the Middle East earlier this year during the Arab Spring, Im worked to produce looks that mixed the proportions and construction of traditional clothing from that region with the blazers and t-shirts that are iconic of the United States. Subtle military details like cargo pockets served as the final touches that drew the cohesive collection together.

Siki Im
Spring/Summer 2012

Photos: Betty Sze
Text: Jonathan Shia

Designer: Siki Im
Stylist: David Vandewal
Casting Director: John Tan
Hair: James Pecis
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey

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Billy Reid Fall/Winter 2011

March 1st, 2011

For Fall 2011, Billy Reid presented what could be considered the city-mouse version of the spirited yet sophisticated looks that won him the GQ/CFDA Best New Menswear Designer in America award last season. Reid’s presentations are famous for their elaborate sets, and this year’s was no different. The wood was still trucked up from the designer’s native South—as the mounds of dried leaves had been a year before—but the overall ambience was more Upper East Side penthouse than plantation. The clothes were, appropriately, softer and lighter than in previous outings, but still with the masculine touch that makes Reid a favorite among those who like the urban woodsman look but want to dress a cut above. There were sharp tailored suits and elegant overcoats that looked refined without being effete. Reid also presented a selection of looks for women for the first time, including several long dresses that were chic and effortless, and one particularly stunning evening coat made of sheer silk. The look was Reid through and through—honest, comfortable, and classic.

Billy Reid
Fall/Winter 2011

Photos: Betty Sze
Text: Jonathan Shia
Casting Director: John Tan

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Billy Reid S/S 2011

September 17th, 2010

Lousiana’s two biggest events of 2010—the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Superbowl victory of the New Orleans Saints—were the starting points for Billy Reid’s Spring 2011 collection. “We were thinking a lot about southern Louisiana,” he said of his birthplace, “and it was while we were planning the collection that everything happened.” Reid, who was named Menswear Designer of the Year by GQ in February, showed his rugged yet urbane looks against a stage set of collapsed columns and withered doors, an image evocative of flood-ravaged New Orleans homes post-Katrina. Each model portrayed a specific character with a name and a backstory, a tradition of Reid’s, like Sunny Beatty, the “squirrel-eating black sheep,” and T.J. Goutreaux, the “quirky environmentalist who surveys and assesses wetland techniques; currently stationed in Venice, Lousiana.” The accessories, as usual, were standouts, from the Stetson hats and K-Swiss canvas tennis shoes to the totes filled with oyster shells. Pants were loose and easy, suits were tailored and old-fashioned, and jackets were casual and worn-in. It was exactly what we’ve come to expect from Reid—paragons of Southern refinement in timeless looks that are fresh for today.
Billy Reid
Spring/Summer 2011

Photos: Betty Sze for models.com
Text: Jonathan Shia

Billy Reid – Spring/Summer 2011

Casting John Tan

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Siki Im S/S 11

September 10th, 2010

It’s no surprise that the menswear designer Siki Im used to be an
architect. His presentations are nothing less than spectacles, as
proved by his memorable Fall 2010 showing, with its postapocalyptic
cubicle mise-en-scène and noise rock performance. For Spring 2011,
Siki showed in a working parking garage in West Chelsea, the models in
their rebellious, tailored looks lined up before a row of silent
hulking cars. “These cars were already here,” he joked, “but we edited
them for color.” Color found its way into the collection for the first
time as well, with full looks in cream and gray mixed in with the
black. “I felt like everyone was expecting me to do only black,” he
said, “so I wanted to do a twist.” The clothes were loose in cut and
felt almost airy, a change from the tight bindings that made
appearances in his previous collections. Siki explained that he chose
to show in the garage because of its “homogenous, genderless” quality,
reflecting the alienating design of urban public housing he saw as a
child in Cologne. “I grew up as an immigrant in Europe,” he said, “so
I’ve always been interested in the ideas of integration and how
immigrants get isolated.”
Siki Im
Spring/Summer 2011

Photos: Betty Sze for models.com
Text: Jonathan Shia

Siki Im – Spring/Summer 2011

Casting John Tan
Styling David Vandewal
Hair Holli Smith
Makeup Benjamin Puckey
Models
1- Daniel McSweeney/Red
2-Eryck Laframboise
3-Oleg Antosik
4-Zhao Lei, Eric/Request, Jethro Cave, Daniel, David Agbodji, Eryck
5-Yuri Pleskun
6-Yuri, David
7/8-Philip/Models International
9-Daniel McSweeney
10/11-Oleg, Aiden Andrews, Phil, Zhao, Yuri, Johannes Linder, David
12-Ger/Boss
13-Ger, Daniel, Danny Arter

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