text by Adam Lehrer
Why are we always so thoroughly and eternally transfixed by the myth of the Vampire? Siki Im, in his FW 2016 collection playbook, tries to answer that question: “The represent a mythology of libido and destrudo. They seduce and prey, and kiss and kill. Some yearn for affection and compassion, but all question what it means to be human and liberated.”
I am thoroughly convinced that German-born and New York-based designer Siki Im would be ranked among the Raf Simons’s, Dries Van Noten’s and Gosha’s of the world if he decided to show his collection in Paris. His collections are beaming in interesting (and cool) cultural references at the same time as offering products that this critic wants all of. As stated above, Siki Im and Den Im FW 2016 explores humanity’s interest in vampire fiction. The notion of the hip, poetic, and artistic vampire is not new to fashion, arguably having been covered by designers ranging from Ann Demeulemeester to Rick Owens, but never has it presented itself as such a succinct idea.
Siki’s collection was oozing in references to goth and post-punk culture, with a soundtrack that started with goth Vampire post-punk band Bauhaus, finale’d with a track from the first Swans album Filth, and had people walked out to Joy Division. The music was welcome. It’s extremely nice to hear bands that you actually enjoy after hearing endless jungle techno tracks that usually fuel fashion shows.
Vampires were all over this collection, though. The amazing prints on the Den Im t-shirts depicted scenes from Siki’s favorite vampire films, the makeup was grotesque and monstrous, and the models (though racially diverse) all looked startlingly pale. And the clothes? Sublime. A stunning mohair overcoat in burgundy and grey blend looked akin to the striped robe worn by Tom Hiddleston in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire arthouse film Only Lovers Left Alive. The more streetwear-akin looks, such as a bomber over one of Siki’s excellent hoodies and jeans, came in blood red. Never have I thought I’d so desire a pair of bright red jeans. Siki, an architecture major and nerd, also paid homage to the German architecture and art schoold Bauhaus (happily sharing a name with the band) as evidenced by his magnificent leather work. A red asymmetrical leather jacket had sleeves coming down below the wrists but rolled up exposing only the fingers, while the seams moved triangularly away from the down zipper. There was really some excellent stuff here.
SIki Im is truly Autre’s kind of menswear designer, constantly engaging his creative impulses at the expense of commerciality. He shows no signs of being worried about whether or not Nordstrom will buy his collections. Perhaps chalk it up to his time under Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang, or maybe just his commitment to the fine arts, but he does seem much more in line with Parisian and London-based designers than he does New York. And because of that, New York needs him, and his commitment to building the design identity of the city is admirable.
And if you’re wondering, Siki’s (excellent) list of favorite vampire films is as follows: Les Vampires (Louis Feulilade, 1915), Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1929), Dracula (1931), Vampyros Lesbos (Jesus Franco, 1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979), The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983), Der Kleine Vampir (René Bonniére, 1985), The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987), Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987), Nadja (Michael Almereyda 1994), From Dusk till Dawn (Robert Rodgriguez, 1996), Let the Right One in (Tomas Alfredson, 2008), Thirst (Park Chan-wook, 2009), Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013), GirlsWalks Alone Home at Night (Ana Lily Amirpor, 2014)
The only one I would add, personally, is Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, Lili Taylor knocked that one out of the park.
Click here to see the full runway presentation during New York Fashion Week Men's.