Helmut Lang was the most influential designer of the nineties – anyone who disagrees with this, email me and I will arrange a time to physically fight you. True fashion fans can confirm this by the hours that they have spent trolling resale stores hoping to score a piece of Helmut’s very own fashion history. And, since he left the label that bears his name in 2005, Helmut Lang the brand rumbled on, but things were never quite the same. Now might just be the time for that to change.
It was announced back in March that Isabella Burley, the Editor-in-chief of Dazed and Confused, would become the first Editor-in-Resident at the brand. And what is an Editor-in-Residence? Not entirely sure, but it seems to involve being responsible for everything creative happening at the brand. Her first move? Hiring the wildly talented Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air to design the brand’s first collection under her creative eye, the first of what is hoped to be many short-term residencies from other designers. Along with Shayne, the rest of Burley’s team is made up of some of NYC’s boldest and brightest creatives. But don’t call it a re-brand – this is a restoration project – bringing Helmut Lang back to its previously iconic self.
Yesterday marked the first of what seems like a lot to come from the brand. First, a campaign shot by Ethan James Green and featuring new and existing Lang muses, including model Alek Wek, who walked many a show, or ex-porn star Traci Lords, who wore custom Helmut on the cover of the 1995 issue of Details Magazine. It’s also a welcome back to the original brand’s font – brings a bit of a chill down your spine, like when you see an ex for the first time in years that you never stopped loving. Aw. But what about the clothes? Well, Isabella Burley et al will be re-commissioning archive pieces, starting with a 15-piece collection coming in September, with more added every four months (fingers crossed for the leather undies). Along with the archive pieces, a whole collection designed by Shayne will walk the runway at NYFW in September. We know it’s a lot to handle, but take a deep breath, take a medicinal shot of vodka and gird your loins. This is just the beginning.
Photographs by Ethan James Green