Helmut Lang Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

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The design team at Helmut Lang heard the call of the sea this season. Pictures of sailors and buoys were among the sources they pored over as they prepared a collection that had the requisite sailor pants and tops, but also broader takes on the theme, like the use of knotting and net.  This tied in nicely with the season’s artistic “intervention” from the artist Maia Ruth Lee, who created a series of bound sculptures, “Bondage Baggage,” that incorporated salvaged fabric from the design studio. 

With hybrid work models starting to be put in place at many companies, the team wanted to find an alternative to traditional office attire, specifically the suit. Their proposal is sets, which can be a jacket and pants or adjustable pieces, like pants with detachable panels, or vest/jacket combos. A water-repellent trench with a blue lining was a nice extension of the theme. Dresses with twisted straps or halters looked back to the spring 2005 collection, the last designed by Helmut Lang. “We’re all Helmut lovers and idolize what he did,” said one of the  designers, “but we’re living in such a different world than 1998. So for us, I think every season it’s really exciting to take those ideas that were so revolutionary back then and reinterpret them in today’s world.”  

“Familiarity and newness,” was one of the designers’ aims. The challenge facing the brand in its current form is how to deal with its heritage. The label’s not in the business of reissuing the founder’s designs but iterating on them—from a distance.  It’s been 16 years since Lang himself left the company, so what’s “familiar” now could be “Old Lang” or “After Lang.” It really depends on who is looking. “I think someone who’s 25 maybe doesn’t know Helmut Lang from back in the day, but he likes [the brand],” observed one of the team members. “Why? I think it’s because Helmut Lang always designed things you could live your life in, like five-pocket jeans. We’re not following this other path a lot of fashion brands are going down, which is hype and fast and crazy. We’re giving you really accessible things that can always evolve every season, that you wear every day, but there’s something special to it… You can wear something Helmut from 1995 today; it will still look amazing. I think that was the magic that he had.”

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