A cool and clever moment at Helmut Lang
An impressive display at Helmut Lang, the first major show on the proper opening day of New York, a Saturday of blue skies and huge cumulus clouds. And a collection that patently respected the house’s DNA – a particular blend of panache, subversion and strict cutting and tailoring.
Staged to a select audience of barely 200, this was the fourth collection and second show by Englishman Mark Howard Thomas for Helmut Lang, a brand that had been drifting since its acquisition by Link Theory in 2006.
Creative director of Helmut Lang's men's and women's collections since the end of 2017, Thomas' pieces were joined on the runway by denimwear from Thomas Cawson, creative director of the brand's jeans division.
Unlike Thomas and Cawson, Lang was not a professionally trained designer but someone who almost stumbled into fashion after strangers began to admire his personally made clothes. But his label's current creative directors have been smart enough to inject that sense of unlikely novelty into their work for Lang in terms of finish, palette and proportion.
The silhouette was clean and lean – just like Helmut, though Thomas also had the guts to utilize plenty of bright acids in his color palette – electric blues, bubblegum pinks or cadmium yellow – reflecting the techier world of today.
But the most powerful moment was the opening made mainly in white – whether semi-sheer white nylon blazers; sleek, sexy whitewash cocktails and splendid parkas.
For guys one also had to love his seafoam-green suits made with crisp two-button jackets and lean pants; or the workerist denim jackets and pants in just the right shade of Maya blue, paired with construction boots.
Backed up by a powerful soundtrack including some perfect churning industrial sounds from the great multi-instrumentalist Thom Yorke this was a show with real zest.
Staged in a disused space in a cast-iron building in Soho, close to the scene of some of Helmut’s most triumphant shows, this was a significant advance for the brand.
In a word, under Mark Howard Thomas and Thomas Cawson, Helmut Lang is relevant again.
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