Was talking to a fashion-design minded friend the other day and we were talking about who our absolute favourite designers were. I responded the usual: Miuccia Prada, Consuelo Castiglioni, Vera Wang, Alber Elbaz, but found with each name I mentioned, the word "but" followed. For example, "Oh, I love Prada, but sometimes her stuff looks a little tired after one season" or "Marni rocks, but sometimes they only look good on tall, rangy supermodels". That sort of thing. So we cracked our heads a bit and I received revelation: Helmut Lang. Helmut Lang was my absolute favourite fashion designer in the late 1990s, when I was just discovering fashion. At the time, I loved minimalism, was wary of Gucci, was occasionally charmed by Prada, and also worshipped Calvin Klein. But Helmut Lang was special, because his clothes have that refined ad yet edgy air that even today, I still aim to cultivate into my looks. And he wasn't just a "lean pantsuit" man. His ideas were forward, his influences varied and avant garde, but he condensed them into a sharp, devastatingly cool message that I fell for every time. Here I present my all-time favourite dress -

After and my friend and I parted ways that evening, I went home and clicked through style.com for Mr Lang's old shows, and I was surprised how fresh many of the looks seem today, even those from 2000. The experiments with volume (tulip-ish skirts, bubble-hem dresses), texture (denim! feathers!), and form (bondage straps, cutouts), even the chunky shoes; Mr Lang had been going at them long before the rest of the pack did, and it gave me pang to think of what he could be doing today if he were still at the head of his own label. I would wear his stuff unconditionally, without a need for a "but". Funnily enough though, looking at me you wouldn't put me down for a Helmut Lang girl - I don't wear a lot of black and I happily mix in the odd floral and small touches of girly and frippery that one does not associate with Mr Lang. But there he is, at the back of my head, unconsciously influencing me as I reject the pretty for the sharp, in ways however small. Go admire his work at http://www.style.com/fashionshows/designerdirectory/HLANG/seasons/

Photograph by Michael Thomspon for US Vogue June 2000


editor said…
i definitely admire what he did and his vision "but" what about the new helmut lang brand?
fashionaddict said…
The clothes are nice enough, but so far it's what I think of as "Helmut Lang lite". It looks like an edgier Theory, which I suppose makes sense since it is owned by Theory now. Minus the history of Helmut Lang, I actually think the Michael and Nicole Colovos aren't doing a bad job - it's just that they're not really offering all that much more to the design landscape as Helmut Lang himself did. But maybe that's too much to expect from a "comtemporary" label?
editor said…
i was looking at some daryl K stuff the other day and i think if she wanted to push herself, and evolve a few steps higher, she would have been a good choice, might have half-filled lang's shoes.
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