Prison: so hot right now. Designer Siki Im, for one, is currently fascinated by the idea of institutions. More particularly, jail and hospital uniforms, which explains why Alix Lambert's Russian-prison documentary The Mark of Cain was a main source of information for the designer's Spring collection. "It's a pretty intense documentary," said Im backstage at his Monday runway show, which took place in an indoor parking lot. (Range Rovers and BMWs lined the grit-covered brick walls.)
The clothes, however, were not too intense. Instead, Im took classic menswear proportions and gave them a still-easy-to-wear "prison fit." Japanese cotton wide-leg trousers were paired with a simple twill silk crew-neck top—it resembled the ultimate penitentiary uniform, or even hospital pajamas. Im worked with his personal tattoo artist, MXM, to create a prison-tattoo-inspired print that was dotted on T-shirts, boxer shorts, and even blazers. And yes, there were shower shoes, which, as anyone who has read the yuppie-in-a-penitentiary memoir Orange Is the New Black knows, are essential for such an institution. These looked like traditional sport slides but were made of paper soles with a stretchy cotton strap that rendered them more of a psych-ward slipper.
The finale moved the collection fully from the jail cell to the emergency room, with models sporting silicone-nylon tunics inspired by hospital scrubs. (You know, the plastic kind doctors wear during bloody surgeries.) "We usually stick with natural fibers, but it felt appropriate to experiment with more technical materials this season," said Im. The approach worked, giving the whole collection the unsettling edge it needed. After all, none of Im's chosen institutions could be called a cakewalk.