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Thread: The work of Helmut Lang

  1. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisibabe View Post
    shawn/jevna: saying "I like the new HL Design" is the crucial point.
    The new HL Design is a kind of mainstream Helmut Lang - oriented in all the creative ideas this man had 5-15 years ago. They simply pillaged his design (with poorer quality) and honey-drenched it to make it mass-compatible. There's not a single own conceptual/design idea from the new design team.
    An now, after ten years, you come, see and like it.
    Thats one of the things about Mr. Helmut Lang: that he worked in a way YOU gonna like in 10 Years.
    I disagree with this sentiment. There's really not much resemblance of the old Helmut Lang in the new stuff at all. I expected Theory to just dive into the archives and reinvent ideas he had back in the golden years, like you say, but that didn't really happen.. I'd say it has more in common with all the other New York based brands that's popped up over the last few years than HL.

  2. #82

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    Great post rach2jlc. I agree on both points that due to the cyclic nature of fashion Helmut's time has come and gone but also that I've had trouble moving on. I only discovered Helmut at the tail end of his career, but he was what got me into fashion.

    Every designer that I liked has moved on, Helmut, Slimane, Plokhov and Sander. Despite all the new designers coming up I haven't found a single one to get as excited about. Even with sales gearing up right now there isn't anything I can think of I want (not all bad given the economy). I'm not sure what it is, I'm not that old and don't want to be out of touch already but I just don't dig the direction most designers are going in these days.

    The same thing happened to me in the late 90s when all the grunge bands broke up/died. In a short span every band I liked was over, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains etc. My friends used to make fun of me that my approval of a band was a death kiss. It took me a few years before I was into anything new (i listened exclusively to classical music for a long time). But, I guess I moved on and now have new bands I like, maybe the same will happen with fashion.

  3. #83

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    Haha, I think I was down to $150 or so. Sorry folks, I'm keeping them now, I was hard up for money then, I'm going to try to make them work this winter. If its any consolation, besides the zipper they aren't that different from standard army surplus combat boots...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fade View Post
    Just a curious information....for how much you tried to let them go?
    (i'm preparing to eat all my fingers)

  4. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babar View Post
    I disagree with this sentiment. There's really not much resemblance of the old Helmut Lang in the new stuff at all. I expected Theory to just dive into the archives and reinvent ideas he had back in the golden years, like you say, but that didn't really happen.. I'd say it has more in common with all the other New York based brands that's popped up over the last few years than HL.
    Agreed. Jevan and shawn, quick history - Prada bought Helmut Lang in 1999 (they also bought Jil Sander, trying to completely dominate the "minimalist" market, but then Hedi came and spoiled the whole thing for menswear, and Tom Ford spoiled it for womenswear, so the aesthetic has shifted), ousted Helmut in 2004 (and Jil Sander in the same year), and sold the company to Theory in 2006. This HL has nothing to do with the old HL, and the fact that Helmut Lang is a venerable designer, who indeed defined a decade of style and will go down in fashion history, makes it all the more fucked up. Old fans of Helmut Lang not only don't even look at the new label, but may take offense when someone talks about in a positive tone.
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

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  5. #85

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    just to keep my integrity: ;)
    I never wanted to say anything positive about the new HL. That would be absurd, cause it's crap. Maybe I've not made myself clear enough in my post and it was misinterpreted.

  6. #86
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    /\ no, we understood. babar just took it to a whole new level.
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

    StyleZeitgeist Magazine

  7. #87

    Default Index Magazine Interview 2004

    I came across this interview while looking for the more recent Bourgeois one in Wallpaper, which I have missed on paper and was hoping to find online somewhere (is it?).

    I hadn't seen this here, slap my wrist if it's been posted already. I copied it here, because on the Index site it's impossible to read.

    His last answer is quite wonderful.

    -------------------------------------------------
    Helmut Lang, 2004

    WITH PETER HALLEY

    Helmut Lang is a complicated guy, a personality vibrant with the push-pull of creative contradiction. While he can only be described as the most European of men, he has chosen to live and work in New York. He is reserved and irreverent, methodical and spontaneous, a doer and a dreamer. Perhaps this same complexity is what has fueled his fashion design over two decades, allowing him to create work that is always refined and coherent, and usually transgressive and provocative as well. Peter Halley spoke to the designer in his studio in Soho.
    PETER: The idea of starting a fashion house in Vienna is so improbable.

    HELMUT: I know. It's beyond my imagination now. I think you only do these things when you are very young and inexperienced, and you have nothing to lose. Somehow I just slipped into fashion quite early on, which I had never planned.

    PETER: You started when you were just eighteen or nineteen years old.

    HELMUT: My teenage years were so restricted. It was a really hard time. I came from very simple circumstances, and I had the classical stepmother in a bad Hollywood movie. When I could finally move out when I was eighteen, I just had to find myself.

    PETER: That was '74 perhaps? Was how you dressed your form of expression?

    HELMUT: I was trying to define myself in terms of fashion. I think I wanted to do what everybody does at that age. You want to look good, you want to go out, you want to explore life and sexuality.

    PETER: Were you putting together things you found, or were you making them yourself?

    HELMUT: I had clothes made, but mostly in polyester, because it was very cheap. At the time, the fashion industry had not yet arrived in Vienna. We had this very strong made-to-measure tradition left over from the old Austrian culture. There were a lot of seamstresses who had their own little businesses. People would ask me where I bought something, and I'd say I had it made. They'd say, "Can you do something for me?" I'd say, "Sure," because I was looking for something to do anyway.

    PETER: Working with the seamstresses was, in a way, your education.

    HELMUT: Yeah, directly. I had a little studio with two or three seamstresses ÷ that's how we started. Then I said, "Well, we have to do a fashion show in Paris." We did a show, which was completely naive and crazy. As I said before, you can only do this if you're young, inexperienced, and have no idea of the consequences.

    PETER: I guess you have always had the confidence to make things happen.

    HELMUT: That's something that I had quite early on in life, I think. I grew up with my grandparents really high up in the mountains ÷ it was very detached from civilization, actually. When I was a little kid, I would always gather the other kids together to make things. When the first tourists came, we put flowers, stones, and sticks into little plastic ice cream cups. We were handing them out or selling them ÷ I can't remember which. So on the one hand, I am very conscious, but on the other hand, I depend a lot on imagination for the creative work.

    PETER: What was it about fashion that became your sustaining passion?

    HELMUT: The most important and intriguing thing about fashion is that it relates to people immediately, in a very short time frame. That's also an incredible burden, because of the concentration of the work. It's so fast and so intense. It needs so much input ÷ you always have it in your head. There are also the deadlines. But a deadline also forces you to formulate. Without one, it's actually much harder.

    PETER: Despite your Viennese beginnings, your work has always had an international feeling.

    HELMUT: I don't feel particularly Austrian, even though that's where I was born. I've always felt quite borderless. I'm more interested in groupings that have to do with familiarities of the mind. I think that fashion, art, and everything else can only work globally. People everywhere are looking for a certain idea ÷ for things to look at, to dress in, to be inspired by. Of course, there are variations around the world, especially in art. But more than ever such local character is becoming less and less intense.

    PETER: Vienna is so interesting historically. Austria was a multi-ethnic empire until the beginning of the last century.

    HELMUT: My father's side is Polish, Russian and Czechoslovakian, and my mother's is Hungarian and Yugoslavian. I was only born in Vienna. My family was not from there.

    PETER: It's a big place, in a way.

    HELMUT: It was a big place. A hundred years ago, there was something about Vienna that was truly revolutionary ÷ and strong. It had all this incredible tradition and also a strong counter-movement towards modernism. But just before the Second World War it was basically deserted. It's been that way ever since. What's left now is just a phantom of the spirit which was there, but that's good enough.

    PETER: It's a city that seems to inspire some ambivalence.

    HELMUT: If you live there for a while, it animates you somehow. Vienna itself is sweet and mean enough to train you for anything. Before I went to New York, everyone said, "You'll see, New York is really hard." But in comparison to Vienna, New York is really nice. Vienna is what it is. If you have something creative you want to do, you have to leave, or it will kill you. I felt that from the very beginning.

    PETER: And that's where Paris comes in.

    HELMUT: I have spent a lot of my time in Paris. In the '80s, the city was really astonishing ÷ it was one big creative party. What was so unique was something that is lost everywhere today ÷ you had all kinds of people, people from different age groups, just going out and having fun. It was about contact, exchange, doing things, working together ÷ it wasn't as ghettoized. I found it incredibly productive but very amusing at the same time. Then it all closed up in the '90s. I had always thought that I would move our fashion house to Paris. But in the end we came to New York, which was even better.

    PETER: You seem like such a European guy. It's interesting that you have chosen to live in New York.

    HELMUT: As a base, I'm very lucky to have New York. It has a different mindset. When I go back to show in Paris, in a way it's like going home. I've been going there for a long time now, so I know a lot of people. But there is also something about Europe that is quite heavy-handed. You'd probably go crazy in a European town after being in New York.
    Hi. I like your necklace. - It's actually a rape whistle, but the whistle part fell off.

  8. #88

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    Continued:

    PETER: Are there things you miss?

    HELMUT: Europe has this fantastic, rich quality that I wish we had in Soho. If September 11th hadn't happened, maybe Soho would have achieved that kind of coffee-house culture.

    PETER: I sometimes imagine your menswear was designed for a prototypical nomadic European.

    HELMUT: Things often appear different when you are looking at them from the outside. I have never tried to localize my work for a certain group or certain type of man. Of course, I recognize that what I do is always related to culture because it is made for people, so it has to relate to their lives.

    PETER: One year ago, you opened your made-to- measure boutique at 142 Greene Street in Soho. It's like a return to your early years in Vienna, making clothes for private clients.

    HELMUT: By the late '90s, I was thinking, "What else shall I do?" I decided we should do made-to-measure, in order to provide really personal service again. It's a counter-movement to the corporate and marketing elements that are so strong in fashion. A lot of the made-to-measure work is for our Hollywood clients. But it also functions as a design studio. We have the prototypes for the collections there. It's like we've come full circle.

    PETER: Helmut Lang, as a company, has such a cohesive worldview. The made-to-measure shop, the taxicab advertisements, the runway shows, and the design itself all reflect the same sensibility. And I've always admired your website.

    HELMUT: It's just very simple. It's there to provide information. I felt that our website shouldn't be full of tricks or grab for attention as if it were based on computer games. We just thought it should just be a normal extension of what we do. Before we launched our site, our work was always edited by someone else ÷ in magazines, on TV. The entire body of work could never be seen, except by a few fashion professionals. The great benefit of the internet is that everybody can have access to everything.

    PETER: The simple design is very satisfying.

    HELMUT: I always think that I should look at it again to see what else we could do. But then there's another show or something else to do, so I never really come back to it. At the very beginning, the website designers we talked to said, "Your website looks like shit. We could do a lot for you," blah, blah, blah. We'd look at their ideas and say, "This is everything we don't want." So we didn't change anything in the end.

    PETER: In your own way, you are very good at business.

    HELMUT: I'm not so sure I'm so good at it. I never wanted to do it, but I had to for a really long time. Of course, four years ago we merged with Prada.

    PETER: As a creative person in business, you have to keep everything together, otherwise things just don't happen.

    HELMUT: I think of it just as defending my creative point of view. In the end, I'm the only one who can take care of it ÷ there really isn't anyone else who can do that for me. From the beginning, I wanted to be able to concentrate on the creative aspects of the work and everything that's related to image. But you always have to do much more than you actually want to. There is no such thing as being completely detached from all these issues. Somehow, they always come back to haunt you.

    PETER: Is it a different process from the creative decisions?

    HELMUT: Yes. With creative decisions, it is very emotional. It's not about togetherness. It's the fight to reach the point at which whatever you're creating is strong enough to fight you back. Then you just have to let it go. You are the only one who can really decide that.

    PETER: Your creative life seems to be characterized by a few very stable long-term relationships. The architect Richard Gluckman designed all your spaces in New York. You don't switch from one architect to another every two years.

    HELMUT: I think as long as a relationship is good, there is really no reason to break it. It's as simple as that. The idea of being faithful is a good one, as long as it works for both parties. But if it doesn't work anymore, it will fall apart anyway. That's also happened to me. In the course of your life, people come and go. If you're lucky, there are very few people ÷ perhaps one or two ÷ who you will know for your entire life.

    PETER: You have longstanding friendships with two artists, Jenny Holzer and Louise Bourgeois. Louise Bourgeois must be in her eighties, but she's doing great work.

    HELMUT: She has this incredible quality. When you meet her in person, you leave so completely enriched and touched. I think she's incredibly strong and focused at the same time. She's producing so much wonderful work now. She's at an age where that is basically all she wants to do.

    PETER: Visual people like yourself often have a need to create a visually harmonious environment.

    HELMUT: I am definitely interested in architecture and interior design. I like playing around with my environment. It's something that I have to do. I don't always have to build something from the ground up ÷ I'll change rooms or move things around just to be sure that they are in the right place. Sometimes before doing a new collection, I used to rearrange my entire apartment.

    PETER: It's almost a design warm-up.

    HELMUT: I like everything that's an exercise of form or proportion in areas that have nothing to do with fashion. It's important to look at a lot of different things to train your eye.

    PETER: For me, the proportions of a room can affect everything.

    HELMUT: I think it's absolutely important.

    PETER: If I go to a hotel, and the room is...

    HELMUT: I can't go anymore.

    PETER: I've found people usually don't understand this. They can't believe that it might have some connection with my actual work.

    HELMUT: On the one hand, it should mean nothing. On the other hand, if I stay in a hotel room in which everything is against me, I am unable to relax ÷ there's just no way around it. If the proportions feel contrary to me, I can't feel at home. It's not about good taste or bad taste. You can find beauty in every kind of traditional style or in modernity. But, if a room feels completely dislocated, I would rather be in a tent. I won't be able to sleep, or I'll have to stay out all night long. It's difficult to explain, but I think it has something to do with just taking care of your environment.

    PETER: How do you absorb cultural information? How do you follow what's going on in New York?

    HELMUT: My cultural experience starts with CNN in the morning, which I started to watch regularly after September 11th. I think that's just what you do in New York. Earlier this year there was a week of exhibitions called Americana. I was interested to find out how American design differs from the European tradition. It was a very good counterpoint to contemporary art. It's always fun to watch the crowd, which was so completely different from the art crowd or the fashion crowd.

    PETER: And these influences somehow go back into the work.

    HELMUT: Fashion is an expression and a reaction. It's a reflection, and even a proposal, on the current situation of our society. In line with this, whatever sidesteps you take should have some humor and some element of provocation. The work should contain some ideas that will eventually grow in the future, and some that just go off like fireworks ÷ that explode and glimmer briefly, and then fade. Hopefully, the consistency of the work over the years adds up to an interesting story. Depending on how strong you are, that story can be short or long.
    Hi. I like your necklace. - It's actually a rape whistle, but the whistle part fell off.

  9. #89

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    helmut lang... the good ol' days of fashion... when all it had to do is 'whisper' and affects so many people... not like nowadays where EVERYONE finds the need to scream to gain attention...

  10. #90

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    Bringing this thread back up. I just got a pair of the black lace up with metal heel insert. I have been looking for a pair for long time.

    Thanks for the interview mrbeuys!

    I miss that old SOHO store. Back in the days visiting a HL store was a heart pounding experience.

  11. #91
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    It truly was. Last week I got to see a few racks of the old clothes they are giving away to museums. Man, I contemplated murder...
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

    StyleZeitgeist Magazine

  12. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    It truly was. Last week I got to see a few racks of the old clothes they are giving away to museums. Man, I contemplated murder...
    Seriously, I am willing to go far to get my hands on some old pieces... you distract them, I grab what I can, we both run?
    Who are "they"?

    Anyway, thanks for bringing this thread back... this is important.
    Hi. I like your necklace. - It's actually a rape whistle, but the whistle part fell off.

  13. #93
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    They. Well, I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you ;-)
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

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  14. #94
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    love these shoes,and the detailing on the trousers

    merz: your look has all the grace of george michael at the tail end of a coke binge.

  15. #95
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    The contrast is beautiful.One of the things that first attracted me to his work many moons ago.

    Fall 2002







    merz: your look has all the grace of george michael at the tail end of a coke binge.

  16. #96
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    SS 05







    merz: your look has all the grace of george michael at the tail end of a coke binge.

  17. #97
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    good thread
    helmut lang is best forever.
    here are some intereting Piece form HL
    HORSE HAIR HOOD KNIT

  18. #98

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    Not sure if this has been posted anywhere,
    from
    http://www.maryellenmark.com/text/ma...C-000-015.html


    HELMUT LANG U.S.A.

    HARPER'S BAZAAR September 1998

    AS A DESIGNER, HELMUT LANG HAS ALWAYS HAD HIS OWN HIP AGENDA, OUTSIDE THE RULES OF THE MAINSTREAM. BUT HIS ARRIVAL THIS PAST JANUARY IN NEW YORK CITY WHERE HE NOW LIVES AND WORKS, HAS TRIGGERED AN EXPLOSION IN FASHION'S POWER POLITICS.

    BY SARAH MOWER
    FASHION EDITOR: MELANIE WARD.
    PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARY ELLEN MARK

    Fashion is totally collaborative,” says photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who worked with fashion editor Melanie Ward and set designer Jocelyn Beaudoin on “Helmut Lang U.S.A.”, creating images that are “symbolic of America, Norman Rockwell and those old studio portraits where there was always something quirky in the picture.” Mark spotted the two children in the pictures selling lemonade at a parade in Manhattan the day before the shoot. “They brought a little bit of reality into the images,” she says, “and I’m a realist at heart.” Mark is currently preparing a book of photographs of America, from the 1960s to today, to be published by Aperture.

    Unless you knew, you wouldn't even remotely suspect that the longhaired guy in the khaki acid‑washed denims and white T‑shirt is one of the most in‑demand and influential fashion designers in the world, a force so strong that a simple decision of his has tipped the order of international collections upside down. When Helmut Lang announced, on July 6, his intention to show his spring collection in New York unprecedentedly early ‑September 17‑ the effect was astonishing. Within days, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan declared they'd show that week, too, setting in motion a breakaway group of New York shows scheduled to go before London, Milan and Paris. That is a big statement of confidence in the international standing of New York as a fashion center. And it's an even bigger statement of confidence in one man: Helmut Lang.

    So take a closer look at the cool 42‑year‑old guy everybody wants to be around. His real power comes from his work: He has delivered a convincing, wearable, loved and relied‑upon urban uniform for a global category of men and women. Arguably, his aesthetic has defined our shifting times as succinctly as Armani's did in the '80s and Yves Saint Laurent's did in the '70s. More interesting still, he's done this out of Vienna, slowly, quietly, operating in a closely controlled margin of visual codes and privacy. Not many people can conjure up a picture of Helmut Lang's face. That's entirely intentional. Lang doesn't give many interviews, avoids celebrity and inhabits a self‑determined anti-publicity zone accessible only to a network of trusted friends.

    For 10 years, I've known Helmut Lang as the pale, slightly underground gunslinger who'd show up in Paris, score a hit collection and then disappear into the tantalizing obscurity of Mitteleuropa. Yet here he is, on a summer's day, sitting at a SoHo cafe, relaxed and ‑surprise!‑ tanned, absolutely at one with the beat of New York City. He's agreed to talk about his decision to close his studio in Vienna and move his business to Manhattan this past January, a news item that was one of the fashion gossip highlights of 1998. Has New York changed him? How has it been to swap Vienna for the full‑on lifestyle of downtown Manhattan and the Hamptons? How can someone so private live in such a publicity‑hungry city? This is what I want to know.

    Over two days, Lang allows me to visit his office and showroom and hang out with him in some of his favorite places. We talk, smoke Camels and do dangerous desserts together (one plate, two spoons, his order). Helmut Lang is one of those unusual men who actually converses, listens to what you're saying, thinks about it before replying, lights your cigarettes, makes jokes, laughs at yours, is considerate, stands up when you come in, values his friends, has a life, is grown‑up, likes women. Needless to say, these are not the behavior patterns you'd expect in someone who keeps himself so carefully at arm's length from the public. And to me, liking women‑really liking, listening to and respecting women‑is the best qualification for any designer.

    Lang is also resolutely "normal" about himself and the sensa*tion surrounding his arrival here. He says so many of his European friends have ended up in New York already, he was almost the last to do so. He made up his mind in 1997. "After working for 10 years in Vienna, we'd finally got a huge studio space renovated perfectly," he says. "But the day after we finished it, I went to New York to open a store, and I loved the place. Really loved it. I stood in the store and thought about Vienna and realized: right space, wrong city." Manhattan, he says, has turned out to be a perfect psychological fit for him, both personally and creatively. "When you arrive here, it's like…,” he searches for the right words, "being in love. When you're not in love, you're fine, but when you are, you discover you have all this new energy, an additional capacity you never knew you had, a new dimension in yourself. Moving here just felt completely necessary, and right. I love Vienna and Austria, but when I was growing up, everything great came from the U.S., everything modern‑jeans, music, movies, the casualness. That's what I've been working with in everything I'm doing. For the first time, I feel I'm not living a secondhand life."

    THE TENDERNESS IN LANG’S WORK IS SUBLIMINALLY TRANSMITTED BY HIS LOYALTY TO HIS MODELS “WHO LOOK LIKE THEY HAVE INTEGRITY, OR MORE LAYERS THAN JUST BEAUTY.” HE NEVER SHOWS WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, OR MEN WITHOUT WOMEN. AFTER A WHILE, THEY BEGIN TO LOOK LIKE A FAMILY.

    HIS AMERICAN HEART: “WHAT I DO HAS ALWAYS BEEN INFLUENCED BY AMERICA, COMBINED WITH MY EUROPEAN BACKGROUND,” SAYS LANG. “BEING HERE JUST MAKES IT CLEARER AND MORE FOCUSED.”

    You should look at the Helmut Lang store at 80 Greene Street. It's a kind of metaphor. From the street you see a mostly empty space, two rails of clothes. To get any farther, you must enter and pass through a reception area that is dominated on one side by a vast black sculpture of bald eagles that was salvaged from a government embassy and, on the other, an information‑flashing high‑tech installation by Jenny Holzer. If you're not scared off by all that‑if the frisson does it for you‑you'll eventually get to the bays that contain the clothes and, beyond them, the changing rooms, which are ranged behind a slightly perverted thin plastic screen. This store is the prototype, designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects, for the outlets that Lang will eventually roll out in an undetermined number of locations worldwide. "The selling area is set back from reception and the cabines [changing rooms] are even more private," he says. "We all hate being exposed to the selling room when we are changing."

  19. #99

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    continued ---




    What you'll find in the secluded bays this fall are the best clothes Lang has ever done. Having arrived in New York on inspiration overdrive, he produced a collection of creamy, luxurious parkas, fabulously light but functionally warm coatings of down and alpaca to layer over ribbed cashmere, ivory moleskin jeans and cargo pants. Mixed in with it all‑and this is vital to the service‑oriented part of Lang's game plan‑are his signature black suits, simple‑but‑perfect V‑neck knits and denims, the everyday things most of us live in year‑round. The quality sings but never overpowers the functionalism of his design; the collection is, as Lang says, practical, but at the same time ensures a certain drama: "It's a luxury product, but it embraces all the basics. It's about getting things the way I always wanted them: just one collection, sold all together, with basic things in it like denim that are also great. And the price must be product related."

    Such was the excitement surrounding Lang's arrival in New York that there could be no possible resistance to this message on the runway. Nevertheless, the idea of appearing in the New York celebrity spotlight made him balk. As anticipation escalated, he canceled his show on March 31 and threw fashion editors into an uproar by posting his collection on the Internet instead. "I felt the whole focus on what we were doing was building up to a major event, and suddenly it was an issue for me," Lang says. "I'd been thinking about using the Internet for a long time, so it just seemed the moment to do it. It also felt right to keep contact with Europe, because it was the first season we didn't do a show in Paris. We could be global, everyone could see the clothes at the same time. It's democratic. You know‑his look is ironic‑modern communication." The move, naturally, wasn't altogether popular with the press, which has more invested in the traditional formula surrounding the exclusivity of shows than it likes to admit. Even though Lang backed up the fuzzy digitized images on the Internet with a personal delivery of videos and "look books" to important editors, there was ‑still‑ something elusive about the whole exercise. The experiment was a deliberate challenge to the voracious norms of the fashion system, a typical Helmut Lang bid to seize control of his own output and image.

    As it turned out, that was just the first shock to the system. Lang's mindset‑his ordered Germanic brain allied with his rebel soul‑made him question another fashion ritual: holding the New York shows after the European collections. It didn't make sense. "It was too late for us," he says. After working it through carefully, he decided to see what happened if he went out on a limb and showed his spring collection before anyone else‑in New York City, and, at the same time, on the Internet. The effect of his decision was to pull the whole international schedule forward, putting New York designers in the exciting and totally unfamiliar position of staking their claim on the season before anyone else. "I have no trouble changing the rules," Lang states. "The point is, who has set out the rules? Often it turns out they were set quite a while ago. I did it just because I thought it could mean a new future that makes sense. I just didn't expect the new future to arrive tomorrow."

    Our conversation constantly returns to Lang's struggle to do something different within the fashion industry. "The whole question is how to keep your independence and freedom in the best way," he says. "I don't want to be absorbed by the usual system. You realize when you arrive in New York that things work. Somehow you have to respect the structure of the market; you can't violate the system. But I get a sense that people are also up for a change now. You can begin to offer something else."

    That determination to do and be "something else" pervades Lang's agenda. Perhaps what's most modern about him is his sane, balanced view about the necessity of making a cutoff between work and life. Maybe this is what one generation learns from another's mistakes. Corporate greed, world domination, workaholism ... how dated is that, even as a style? If you expose yourself too much, you completely kill yourself" is the way he puts it. Perhaps this is a sign of times to come, when a growing group of consumers will identify far more with the power of mystique and subtlety than with the embarrassments of overt branding. On a deeper level, Lang's iron resolve to keep his distance is also about freeing himself up to maintain access to material. Designers who cut their contact with life, friends and (crucially) the time to observe people can lose touch terrifyingly quickly. As far as Lang is concerned, the genius thing about New York is just how perfect an environment it is for striking the balance between staying on the case and out of the limelight. "The fact is, you can live as if you're in a village, and have access to the city at the same time," he says. "You can be in charge of your privacy here. It just depends on how much you want. I've learned to take every weekend off‑whatever is going on. I need time to do nothing. And in that time ‑he laughs‑ "everything is happening."

    I hope I haven't made it seem that Lang isn't any fun. The opposite is true. His delight in watching people in restaurants or bars or just passing by is spontaneous and straightforward. "I love that in New York, types of people are more defined than anywhere else," he says. "They are from all over the world, uptown, downtown types." The logic of his aesthetic‑the jeans thing, the casualness‑is completely confirmed and in context here: You see it in action, and the inspiration feeds back into his work. What he really admires is seeing people who have put themselves together individualistically. He admits the biggest kick is when his own clothes are involved, but the pleasure for him is "seeing the same thing in three situations, and how people make it different," he says. "I don't take what people do with my clothes personally after I've released them. It's about how people live in the pieces. The other day I saw a guy in one of the techno shirts we did three years ago. It was completely integrated into what he was wearing and still looking good. I love that."

    In essence, that is exactly Lang's gift to modern dressing: His pieces will integrate themselves into so many lives and personalities without bragging about their designer origins. Lang has that analyzed. "For my generation the things you grow up with ‑military things, parkas, jeans and T‑shirts, the punk movement‑ everybody has them in their past," he remarks. "A lot of what I do is just shaping that or finding new forms that are crossovers, that unconsciously remind you of something. Somewhere in their roots they have the comfort of something familiar." After he's delivered this thought, he stops and grins. "And just before I get a Mother Teresa complex, let's face it: At the end of the day, I just want my clothes to look good!"

    So here is Helmut Lang, in control and lightened up. New York has done that for him, he says: "It's liberating because ... I tend to be quite emotional. Here I feel like a weight has been lifted. I am not going to make a black‑and‑white distinction between Europe and America. I love both. But in Central Europe things are interesting only when they are complex and deep. Sometimes that's the right thing, but sometimes it cages you without your even realizing it.”

    “COMING TO NEW YORK IS A BIG EXPERIENCE. IT ACTIVATES AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PART OF MY BRAIN. I HAVE THE FEELING IT COMPLETES ME SOMEHOW.”

    In the entire time I spend with him, there is only one point at which I am shocked by Helmut Lang and what his work might mean in the world. It is the moment I step into his private studio. In that second the scale and seriousness of his enterprise hit me. His business is gradually colonizing an entire building in SoHo. He is considering a women's underwear line, preparing an eyewear collection and gearing up for the big one, a fragrance, due in late 1999. When we consider him now, we should take a reality check; this is not someone dabbling in a small, specialized market anymore. Step back, and the truth dawns: The independent‑minded, antiauthoritarian group he appeals to has grown into a large and loyal bunch of mainstream sophisticates‑age unspecified. What they're paying for is a way of dressing that does just as well for men as for women, but also never cuts out the sex. Narrow suit, T‑shirt, coat‑these are clothes stripped of all ridiculousness and infused with the essence of something we all crave: the inarguable authority of cool. This is Lang's brilliant stroke at the end of a century, when the issues around fashion have become overloaded, confusing and fraught with difficulties. Funnily enough, put like that, the whole Lang project begins to sound very American: simple sportswear; versatile, go‑to‑work clothes. Small wonder that his last word on New York is this: "All my life I've had a feeling that I've been traveling but never ar*rived. Now, for the first time, I feel I'm home."

    END

  20. #100

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    Some ad pics from better days (I came here straight from the Raf SS10 thread):








    Last edited by mrbeuys; 08-22-2010 at 12:24 PM.
    Hi. I like your necklace. - It's actually a rape whistle, but the whistle part fell off.

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