Helmut Lang’s eponymous label is one that that fashion world heroes as creating luxury out of everyday items, for his unisex approach and for his underlying fetish streak that seeped through his immaculate collections. Departing his own brand in 2005, the label has gone on to almost have cult status with the nostalgia of the Helmut wonder years.
The label’s revival is being managed by a startlingly young crowd. Isabella Burely is the brand’s 26-year-old editor in residence, who has launched a Re-Edition of some of Lang’s archival pieces as well as producing yearlong artist series inspired by some of Lang’s great collaborators. She’s also appointed the uber cool, Hood By Air founder, Shayne Oliver as the label’s designer in residence.
Oliver is the raw talent that emerged from the underground queer spaces of New York. His work is unapologetic and blurs as many boundaries as one could search for. And like Lang, his work oozes with a fetish undercurrent, making the designer an obvious choice for the renewed Helmut Lang brand. His first showing at New York Fashion Week saw an abundance of kink with leather and vinyls, cut outs, and items cut in unconventional ways exposing the flesh that resides underneath. There were a few items that spoke to Lang’s sleek tailoring, but the rest was very BDSM. Harnesses, asymmetric bras, seatless pants, and leather codpieces. Bags were worn around the neck, almost like horse feeders, or cooly constructed out of transparent perspex. “What I liked the most was that [Lang made] staples, just things you needed. And everything else was built on some sort of fetishistic idea,” Oliver said afterward. “That’s the only thing I brought back. I just wanted to bring back the vibe of sensuality.”