Menswear designer Siki Im unleashed a group of mental hospital patients on an audience of fashion editors, bloggers and buyers in a Flatiron parking a lot this fashion week--or at least that’s what his spring 2014 collection made it look like. Models walked out with pink plastic covering their chests, washcloths over their heads, and hospital slippers on their feet clothed in sterile white. A little confusing to those who didn’t know what the collection was all about, but it all made sense because the program had alerted show goers that it was an interest in institutions — penitentiaries and hospitals, as well as an Alix Lambert documentary on prison tattoos called the Mark of Cain that gave Im the idea for his spring 2014 collection.
Im emulated the clean lines and proportions of hospital and prison uniforms in the collection, with jumpsuits of Japanese linen, cotton jacquard baggy pants and loose fitting t-shirts made of light jersey. There was also a print created by Im’s tattoo artist, Maxime Büchi, that included a few of Im’s tattoos alongside Büchi’s own original artwork. It was easy to imagine how a few of the pieces, like the pleat vest-blazer, would work well on their own in the real world, but overall the mental hospital chic look didn’t sit quite well with us.