Dreams & Nightmares: A Look Into Jokie Riak’s Clothing Design
Art and Fashion
Dreams are everything to Jokie Riak. A South Sudanese fashion designer and brand owner, Riak is constantly dreaming and working to bring his manifestations to life. He dreams of creating a fashion house built on storytelling. “Hopes and dreams are amazing,” says Riak. “That’s a great drive, but I can’t just make it on hopes and dreams.” He won’t have to, and he’s already halfway there with the creation of his brand, SAFARI, and an upcoming collection premiering in September.
SAFARI is led and curated by Riak along with six other people. The brand focuses on three clothing lines: menswear, womenswear and customwear, the last of which Riak is especially excited about. He launched the customwear line to connect more with his customers and spend time getting to know each personality, creating something new just for them.
Regarding the origins of his brand, Riak says, “I got the name [SAFARI] because when I would go out with my friends … we’d go to a lot of places and we knew a lot of people, so they started collectively calling us the Safari Boys.” The nickname stuck and flipped a switch in Riak’s mind. This moniker could represent something bigger—a fashion house.
“I got the name [SAFARI] because when I would go out with my friends … we’d go to a lot of places and we knew a lot of people, so they started collectively calling us the Safari Boys.”
Riak’s start in fashion came from his love of storytelling, which led him to attend Salt Lake Community College to study fashion and business. There, he discovered his favorite designer, Martin Margiela. Margiela’s debut show premiered in 1989 and left an impression on Riak. “When [Margiela] was [at Maison Margiela], he was so riveting, so exciting, especially the fashion shows,” Riak says. What enamored Riak was the way that Margiela was able to establish his own world and showcase different parts of it through his clothing. Margiela’s inspiration would then become Riak’s driving force for SAFARI and shaped Dreams, a capsule inspired by the spirituality of dreams.
For this collection, Riak found himself gripped by world-building and storytelling through fashion. He says, “The name of the whole story is Dreams and Nightmares. It’s a two-part story and it’s a two-part collection.” The story is set in the Medieval period and follows two characters, Luna (after the moon) and Lumiere (after the sun). The pair of opposites encounter the ways in which dreams and nightmares are interwoven throughout our psyche. Riak takes a deep dive into unraveling the unconscious with his designs, and how paying attention to our dreams can tell us more about ourselves than we think.
“The name of the whole story is Dreams and Nightmares. It’s a two-part story and it’s a two-part collection.”
Drawing inspiration from anime, each piece in the collection is an integral part of the storyline, using calming colors and muslin to recreate the characters’ journey through the clothing. He plans to use a variety of tulle to illustrate the fluidity and lightness of dreams but also wants to expand on the potential symbolism different materials hold regarding the characters’ stories. To showcase Luna and Lumiere—both representations of light in their own ways—he will be using reflective fabric, which is gray on the surface but emits a glow when exposed to flashing light. It’s a fashion show but more importantly, an experience.
The Dreams collection will also feature custom pieces that will not be recreated. “I am going to be using a lot of embroidery to play with the modularity with the clothes,” says Riak, “mainly to make it really hard to reproduce.” He explains that this methodology will allow the collection to be inextricable from the story and the experience of attending the show. One piece, “The Angel,” stands out to Riak as particularly transcendent of its medium. “My favorite piece is definitely ‘The Angel’,” says Riak. “It’s going to be one of the last pieces because each piece is going to represent a chapter in the story … ‘The Angel’ is going to be really important to the story.” And although he’s keeping “The Angel” a surprise, you can see it soon, this Halloween, Oct. 31, at Sugarspace.
Check out Riak’s premiere Y2K collection Sept. 30 at Sugarspace (132 S. 800 W.) and stay up to date with the artist on Instagram @safarijokie.
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