The label’s Spring 2020 runway show marked the second outing for the Helmut Lang brand under the leadership of Mark Thomas and Thomas Cawson. Continuing to champion the reissue concept launched by the label back in 2017, the pair presented a collection that deftly recalled the minimalist, deconstructed signatures of the cult-status house. But mindful of fashion’s need for the new, there were also some surprising elements that added a freshness to the traditional codes.
Staged in a white industrial space, echoing the ultra-clean yet dismantled aesthetic of the brand, the first half of the show would have undoubtedly appealed to Lang loyalists. In a largely monochrome palette, pared-back tailoring, sheer silhouettes and utilitarian touches were aplenty. There were also flashes of metallic and leather accents that added to the nostalgic feel.
In contrast, the second half saw models sporting increasingly vibrant and softer silhouettes. Sultry tobacco, soft aqua, cobalt blue and neon pink were just some of the shades that provided head-to-toe color, and flirty pleated skirts, pleat-front trousers and flowing slip dresses took the androgynous-led label into more feminine territory.
Helmut Lang’s heyday was in the mid-to-late nineties, when the Austrian designer’s cerebral modernism was a welcome offset to the heavy and mindless excess of the styles that came before, and at a time when smarter people also started to care about fashion. Despite there now being a variety of options for the contemporary intellectual consumer, there is still something unique, a cleverly assembled utilitarian elegance perhaps, that Helmut Lang offers.
Appealing to the Lang faithful, old and new, while taking the brand forward is a fine line to tread. But by building on familiar signatures rather than rewriting the rules, Thomas and Cawson may have succeeded. Injecting just the right amount of fashion into their New York show, the pair continue to evolve the Helmut Lang brand, a practice that unites confident consumers of all style persuasions.