spring 2011 - isolation / integration
photography shawn brackbill
Xenophobia: the uncontrollable fear of foreigners. It comes from the Greek words xenos, meaning “stranger,” “foreigner” and phobos, meaning “fear.” Xenophobia can manifest itself in many ways involving the relations and perceptions of an ingroup towards an outgroup, including a fear of losing identity, suspicion of its activities, aggression, and desire to eliminate its presence to secure a presumed purity.
This Spring / Summer 2011 collection was inspired by the notion of isolation and integration driven by the physical, emotional, and political context of immigration.
A forest of concrete social housing buildings at the periphery that provide an oppressive landscape is the backdrop of this emotionally charged subject. This image portrays minorities detached from Western society with differences in values and customs in European and American urban cities.
Immigrants are trying to build a new living space that might be reminiscent of one’s origins and heritage - a hermetically closed space that argues the foreignty of the new environment, or the environment argues the new settlers.
They want to keep tradition and values of their ancestors, accustom and adjust but face social, economical, and physical barriers.
This dichotomy and friction in hope of integration manifest and opens a new culture of its own. This new identity is a sign for respect, freedom, and tolerance. It is also a reflection of globalization and modernity.
The collection reflects this dialectic approach with references of the protagonists from the social-critical film La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz: bomber jackets, jogging pants, shorts, caps are present but fabricated in luxurious washed and dyed silks. Quilting techniques of armor and tradition are applied on trench coats, shorts, and embellished on the new silhouettes of T-Shirts.
These highly detailed garments are paired with cropped hand-tailored blazers in Super 130s or Wool-Silk, long gowns and tunic shirts in cotton or silk, and a voluminous dropped crotch pant.
This juxtaposition of different styles that are emblematic of western and an ethnic culture allow for new shapes and proportions.
While the overall feeling might at times reflect a street influence, the construction of the garments stays true to Siki Im’s signature minimalism and purity in design.
It is indeed the designers unique vision that is able to transcend the usually stigmatized immigrant style and to elevate it to a statement of modernity: Proposing a synthesis of opposing cultural paradigms, old and new, tradition and subculture.