In Siki Im

No Color, Will Travel

I sometimes feel that color and print tell too much of a story.  That is, it can over-tell a story.  See, color is so emotional and expressive that it can suggest inklings of sensuality, depression, anger, confidence, happiness or mystery.  And under the same thinking, a melange of colors expressed in certain prints can transplant one to a travelled point of interest, shared societal inference or understood cultural notation.  Now while I am not bashing designers, who use color to express and cajole, since we live in color, I am often intrigued by those designers who choose to use a lack of color.  For I feel that oftentimes it's these designers that are heavily inspired by the shape, structure and texture of the aesthetics behind their pieces more than they feel any color can convey.  

Fueled heavily by the influence of the infamous inky Antwerp Six, many of these designers seemed to be driven by something I read the iconic Eleanor Lambert said years ago in that it's the silhouettes offered that push fashion forward.  So the absence of color in their collections are a kind of appeal to the potential customer to fall into, if you will, the shape of the garment and what it's trying to create around the body.  It's this intended creation, be it inspired by architecture, geometry, nature, philosophy, etc., that takes precedence over all else in establishing a reinterpreted homage to an inspired movement.  So I am careful to pay close attention to a collection void of color since there is usually a strong appealing to take notice of the silhouette.  Couple this with the fact that, like the famed Motley Crüe from Antwerp, it's very 'Northern Euro' to use a lack of color to explore and relay deep artistic or political philosophies.  So it didn't at all surprise me that Siki Im did 90% of his Spring 2012 collection in the oft inspired black-scale.  

This German native once again explored themes of Western culture while staying rooted in a strong focus on Mideast layering and Eastern Asian geometric shapes.  Im also told a story of continuity that lent to his commendable patternmaking efforts with blazer and trouser pockets extended past their normal hems and placements in a 'give that a double-take' way and outerwear funnel necks that thickly swathed around the head making scarves a non-factor.  His pattermaking talents also rang obvious with what seemed a slim button-down and trousers with his ubiquitous layering that surprised from the back to reveal itself as a coolly tailored jumpsuit.  Also of note was his offering of something for every man, with the progressive dropped crotch trouser and tunic silhouettes and the more classic tailored lean blazers and militarized shirt jackets in dark splattered and muddled prints.  Although a dark collection, it had an uncharacteristic fluidity to the shapes especially in the 'flyaway' shorts and trousers, lightweight 'parachute-esque' outerwear and thin spare cut jeans.

The only diversions from the splattering of blacks in the show were the hot-stepping white creepers on the models feet, a calm desert tan and a crisp shade of blue, cerulean perhaps, that probably had more to do with a soft appealing to the elements compared to the strong sea of blacks than any direct inference towards the ocean, being down in the dumps or the heavens above.  In this case, the shades of tan and blue were still kept strong while being the only colors in a sense and still defined shape like its black counterpart.  Dare I say that even Mr. Im became exhausted in assessing his assembled sea of blacks.  Could be.  However, I'd rather say that maybe his peek into color could just be a way of imploring us to look harder at what he wanted to highlight symbolically through appealing to our sometimes unconscious desires for color.  He'll design, you decide.

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In Christian Siriano

Set the Mood, Set Sail

Regularly during the summer I seek artistic inspiration around the steamy streets of the Big Apple.  My thirst takes me on quests to Tompkins Square, Central and Washington Square parks where the people hesitate to stop moving and there's enough energy in the air that it almost seems synergistic in nature, them channeling your tastes, you cataloguing their hustle-bustle.  Now while the excess of people in all kinds of activities, dress and traits are tremendously intriguing there is a great deal of serenity in going by the West Side Hudson Piers and just letting my mind clear itself so I can soak in the city's energies by fixating on the open expanse of its ever-flowing waterways.  It's these quiet moments, oftentimes, that help those designers inspired to create and those in a creation process reflect on how to cohesively assemble it all.

I can only imagine that the journey for Christian Siriano has been a non-stop once since his thrust into the often turbulent, deliberately fickle but ever-rewarding fashion arena.  It's always different once the cycle starts and you realize that it's not just enough to make a pretty show-stopping frock; you have to  convince investors, buyers and consumers that it should be acquired through methods of not just good design but profitability, advertising appeal and lifestyle necessity alike.

I always like to imagine what a mood board looks likes in a design house.  Judging by Mr. Siriano's Spring 2012 show I can only guess his mood board had tacked beneath the gorgeously layered, tucked, gathered and rusched chiffon and georgettte 
swatches, images of waves cresting, crystal clear rippling waters and pics of sea-foamed kissed maidens. 

Never content on just giving you halfheartedness, the collection showed the growth of a young designer in the age where a multitasking business eye must coexist with an eye that can manipulate the wispiest silk into a gown and that gown onto an attention-fawning starlet.  There were strong focuses on lightness and transparency in delicately smocked chiffon dresses and skirts that seemed to want to evoke an air of effortlessness.  His color palette this season ranged from vibrant corals to Caribbean azures and sandy sun-kissed tans.  

Adding to the air of effortless was the attention paid to the beautification of the models and in particular, their hair.  The Aveda hair team headed by Antionette Beenders recreated Mr. Siriano's vision with beachy locks reminiscent of a seaside day of frolicking by applying a bevy of products, one of which mimicked that gritty sand-hewn windswept coif a day of beachcombing brings about.  Make-up was kept light and fresh with brightened eyes and dewy natural enhancing hues atop glowing bronze-beat skin tones.  

What stood out here for Mr. Siriano was the consistency that every designer trying to establish their label as either a cult brand or household name realizes early on.  The laurels under which you become famous is what become your trademark.  Right out of the box it was clear that this designer was a lover of vampish sophisticated fashion rooted in grand even campy silhouettes.  His aesthetic wants to empower women with colorful flourishes, sumptuous fabrics and bold shapes celebrating womenswear the same way tailoring, textile and tradition embody menswear.  The realest design challenge on the way to infamy for this 'Runway' alumni is to now continue to infuse the realities of fashion and commerce while not becoming jaded on his search to keep his artistic inspiration.  To thine own mood board be true.

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