Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear
September 12, 2017
It finally happened. Last night, Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air fame sent his take on Helmut Lang down the runway. The big event—perhaps the most anticipated of New York fashion week—is part of a larger effort from the brand to both revamp and return to its roots (which you can read about in-detail here). Oliver was brought on by new editor in residence Isabella Burley, who is also the EIC of Dazed. Her thinking for the project, which, over time, will see multiple designers and artists share their vision of the label, is that, at this point, because Helmut Lamg in its heyday (i.e. when Helmut was still there) continues to be so influential—such an important reference for so many of today’s successful designers—no one can own the brand. No one person can whip up a collection and say, “Boom. Yes. This is Helmut Lang now.” She’s absolutely right. It’s really a refreshing way of thinking, particularly in a time when so many have tried to revive heritage houses and fallen on their faces, or just flat out ruined them.
Packed into three rows of benches like tired, sweaty sardines, showgoers squirmed in their seats while waiting for the runway to start, trying to figure out the best way to catch Oliver’s outing on their iPhones.
What followed when the lights went up was precisely what we were promised: Vintage Helmut Lang-meets-current Shayne Oliver. The designer took house codes and archive signatures—oversized suiting; deconstruction; see-through dresses; jackets, and pants; fetish; kilts for him; those utilitarian straps that we’ve been seeing everywhere this season but are total Langisms—and gave them the HBA treatment. There were nods to bondage with granny-sized leather bras on male and female models, harnesses, chaps done in suiting material, and strappy bustiers that, intentionally off-kilter, made me think of spiderwebs, if spiders were minimalists. Raver-esque pants were very Oliver, as was the abundant use of the Helmut Lang logo, which turned up in one way or another on rings, belts, t-shirts, and even the models’ acrylic nails. The use of Helmut Lang pink on a handful of looks was nice, too.
Since his early HBA days, Oliver has been just as much about creating a mood and participating in a movement as he has been about making clothes. He made that clear again last night, pushing androgyny, sending models stomping down the runway urgently at full speed, and casting original Helmut Lang models like Kristen Owen , Missy Rayder, and Jake Boyle alongside street kids and nightlife legends, like Sophia Lamar, who walked wearing an open blazer and black pasties, one of which was in the shape of an H.
It was clear that Oliver had tapered his rule-breaker aesthetic here to be respectful of the Helmut Lang codes. In places, the fit and fabrication left something to be desired, but at the end of the day, Oliver succeeded in presenting a well-hyped vision of Helmut Lang for today’s avant-garde street set. Those HBA fans left in the dust after the brand announced a hiatus in April are going to be delighted, and you can bet that, once again, the name Helmut Lang is on everyone’s lips.
Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear