By Jenni Avins
Backstage before his show, Siki Im
seemed sheepish to say his collection drew from the 1970s. “Not my favorite, really, but that’s why I thought I should explore it,” laughed the designer, grabbing a pair of wool felt trousers. “Boot leg!” he said. “I never had one in my life. It was a huge stretch for me.” Aside from the boot legs and a few butterfly collars, Im’s take on the decade was more avant-garde, less disco. That wool felt was an homage to German artist Joseph Beuys, who famously worked with the material. Im’s version, also in charcoal, included a subtle hunter green blanket stripe that extended the length of an oversize fox-collar coat as well as a pant leg or two. Beuys was also a performance artist, and Im enlisted the illustrator Richard Haines to sketch on selected garments with white oil pastels just moments before the show. Those drawings—mostly silhouettes of men’s faces, hands, and dotted lines that echoed basting stitches on a few pieces’ shoulders and pockets—showed up in stark contrast on the backs of overcoats and leather boots, but on a heather gray chain-rib sweater they were pleasantly subtle. It could be a new take on custom printing, or just a highly evolved version of doodling with a Sharpie on one’s Converse.
About the boots—they were clogs. And there were low-top ones, too, all of which had steel plates bent around the toes. If a badass man’s clog has ever existed, this may have been it. Leather and metal have never been so prevalent for Im, and he showed a mastery of the materials in Perfecto jackets inspired by the one that German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder made his signature when Olivier Zahm was still a schoolboy. A version in glazed bottle-green cowhide was already starting to show beautiful color variations where the material was crinkling. It didn’t need an asymmetrical bottom—a detail that distracted rather than enhanced—to make it seem special. A round-neck pullover shirt in the finest gray flannel offered a nice alternative to a T-shirt or fine sweater, and it would also be lovely on a woman. In fact, this season marked the first time a female model, Sarah Bledsoe, walked in Im’s show. Her look—a fine, flowy Haines-decorated mackintosh with boot cut trousers—wasn’t distinct from those on the male models, but Im noted that he makes garments in size extra-extra-small. Perfecto.