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19-10-2015
  1
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Resuscitate Helmut Lang?
One week ago, I went to the Helmut Lang store in Paris, and I was surprised to see how disappointing the clothes were. This brand is now sort of a joke, making faux minimalism with boring aesthetics, the pieces are no longer original, inventive, and it's been 10 years since Helmut Lang left...
Katayone Adeli and Alexandre Plokhov are now creative directors and they are talented but I feel like they are heading in the wrong direction, no one cares about Lang now while he was a precursor and most designers always have an old Helmut Lang piece in their offices to get inspired ( this is what many many rumors say and I think this is right ), and this is sad.

IMO, if Helmut Lang goes back and designs even a few pieces to show during some new " Séances de Travail " or in the Paris store ( which is always empty ), while Plokhov and Adeli follow his steps and create more " Helmut Lang-inspired " pieces, it would greatly help the label.

What would you do to resuscitate Helmut Lang ?

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19-10-2015
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it is so boring, they need to get runway shows back for a start

i cannot believe that they have such a huge space in the dept. stores in london, i walk right past them now. they just need to inject a bit more colour, imo. anyone can find the clothes they do atm at rag & bone

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19-10-2015
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No one can even compare to Helmut for me.

The first couple that helmed the label did some decent basics— at best, until they turned the label into a Rick Owen’s tribute— which is all too hilarious since Rick was clearly influenced by Helmut but dislayed none of Helmut’s restrained finesse. Plokhov’s design is plain terrible to me— nowhere even in the same stratosphere as Helmut’s ingenuity and sharpness of innovation.

Someone one day may come along and I’ll be open to be impressed. But none of the teams have done anything remotely worthy. If it were my choice, I’d just let it go.

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19-10-2015
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I really don't know about resuscitate Helmut Lang. The reality is that he is still one of the most influencial designer of the last 20 years.
When he left, a lot of his old customers went to Balenciaga. It offered what Helmut Lang customers wanted: great basics, great cuts, innovation and great fashion overall.
Riccardo Tisci is still copying a lot of Helmut Lang. Everything from the shoes to the menswear is "Helmut Lang-ish".

They have started to reproduce the iconic perfumes. The only relevant way to resuscitate HELMUT LANG for me is to reproduce old pieces. No designer can do justice to the brand. Nicolas G, Riccardo T & Raf S will never loose their position to go there (they are the best for it).

But i don't know if the house own the archives as he destroyed a lot of them to make art.
It sounds weird to do an "archive only" based brand but everybody is doing that.

He will never comeback to fashion (even is he is on my list to take Chanel after Karl, with Nicolas Ghesquiere & Junya Watanabe).
Even when he came back to Paris, it wasn't as successful as before (even if i liked it).

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19-10-2015
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Goodness… Helmut at Chanel would be akin to witnessing the Second Coming for me LOL

That House’s legendary atelier alongside Helmut’s design visionary direction is the stuff of high fashion… Genesis. And to have menswear— OMG, I would have a genuine moment.

But truth is, would Helmut be the same designer 10 years later if he were to return to high fashion…? We can idealize a designer for their strongest and most visionary contributions, but if we were to go through their entire archive, there are sure to be some spotty collections from time to time. And I don’t know if Helmut would still be the innovator he was in the current fashionscape.

Besides the fact that he destroyed/ recycled his entire archive to create artwork is enough for me that the reality is that he’s very much over high fashion. And yes, his collections after his return from NYC seems to be short of that design vision that drew me to his fashion in the first place— but maybe he was just having a less than inspired period? Every desigenr goes through that; no one can continuously churn out hit after hit. Or, maybe that was his maturity, evolution as a creative individual— and that’s how he saw high fashion…? If the latter was the case, maybe it was better he left when he did. You know, Alaia will always be Alaia, and there will always be pieces that are glorious and remind people of the reason why he is so cherished, but seeing his current offerings as a complete collection, it’s just clearly not as strong as it was back in the early-90s. That’s not how I would like to see Helmut become, to be frank.


Last edited by Phuel; 19-10-2015 at 06:28 PM.
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19-10-2015
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^^
Personally, the return of Tom Ford changed a lot of perspectives for me in terms of high fashion.
I (we) had that fantasy of him coming back and taking back the crown he had 6 years before. His collections were still in people's minds, he was copied by the new generation of designers who were also nostalgic of his era and the fact that Gucci sparkle faded made him the "ultimate fashion god".

He was, with Helmut, the big designer who wanted to push fashion forward, break the conventions and challenge our taste.

During his long absence, people almost forgot that he was a very controversial designer. For many people, he was a stylist and the funny part was that he became a "designer" in some people's minds when he left and that they had the opportunity to look back at his work.

I love Tom Ford and he is still my favorite designer. I think that he is still great as he is still able to challenge our taste and make us think about fashion.

The parallel with Alaia is interesting because for me, Alaia is a survivor of the 80's as Tom Ford is a survivor of the 90's.
Helmut for me wasn't a survivor. I think it'svery difficult for someone who has been so radical and so outside of the box to become trendy and then to move on with the same strengh.

You said it, his collections after his NYC period lacked in design vision because suddenly he had to fit to the state of fashion.

That's why i think that if the owners wants to do something interesting with the brand, they should just reproduce old designs or re-adapt them rather than hiring someone else.

Because if you don't want Helmut Lang to go à la Alaia, i think that it may goes à la Jil Sander which is totally irrelevant today, in every ways possible.

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20-10-2015
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^^ I tend to agree with you.

When Onward Luxury Groupe chose Rodolfo Paglialunga as Jil Sander's new creative director, we all knew it was not the right choice, and seeing how disappointing the latest collections were, we were right. He lacks the talent of Jil or Raf, and he is currently conveying the worst image possible of the brand.

Same goes for Helmut Lang now... They should keep the core designers, those who always worked with Helmut, and ask them to reinterpret what he did, because no one can even compare to him and his raw sense of minimalism.

Strangely, Jil and Helmut were both owned by Prada and sold in 2004 and 2005, and it's funny to see how " similar " their paths are now... Even if Jil Sander stayed relevant under Raf and Jil, the brand is failing at following its own DNA and will quickly become a new Helmut Lang...

But IMO, the brand should be discontinued within 20 years, because if they follow the " reinterpret previous pieces " scheme, it cannot last forever and they will have to find something else...

I personnaly hold Prada responsible of Helmut Lang's fall, they should not have decreased investement in the denim line to invest in accessories, thinking Helmut Lang was a regular luxury brand...

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20-10-2015
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You should remember that Helmut's archives burnt few years ago so it's impossible to recreate his pieces. This brand should be closed, because it's lifeless and not interesting at all. And I don't think that copying archive pieces would save them, they still would be as boring and uninteresting as Courreges one year ago, Cacharel or Guy Laroche. It's so sad, because Lang was an innovator and his fashion is still fresh and modern but I see nobody who would be a good replacement.

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20-10-2015
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^^^ Yes-- I’m not a fan of the idea of churning out reissued Helmut sigantures. Yes, I think it’ll be really attractive for a period, since they can update the cuts and fabrics, etc. But it would get old really fast— definitely much much sooner than 20 years LOL

I also thought of Tom when talking about Hemlut returning, Lola. And Hedi…

Both Tom and Hedi distintively chose to not evolve their much in-demand design vision from where they left off. I find taht so fascinating— creatively and commercially. I think they both are individuals that remain very much their own persons, and also acutely aware of the times. Both returned to what could be fairly deemed as creatively-conservative offerings (some would even say boring and irrelevant), but extremely successful— commercially. I’ve instantly been drawn to their new aesthetic— as much as I know it’s not on the same exciting and fresh design-level as what made them leaders initially. I still adore the evolution of their brand. Sometimes it’s wise not to try and capture lightning in a bottle, again. They are very resiiant designers— survivors, yes.

I don’t know if Helmut would, or would not survive in the current fashionscape. For all his design vision, he never was one to just design for design’s sake: His fashions, his style and his branding was always about survival in this world to me— or at least, dressed to survive in a beautiful and barbaric world. You know, oftentimes, people here would say “Oh, Margiela would never do that” … But unless you’re him, how would one possibly ever know…? Based on his past work? People change, evolve, grow, and change their minds again: Designers are just people. He has always been influenced by music, so Helmut could very well be forging in a similar direction as Hedi if he were to return… or had he continue designing.

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20-10-2015
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You can recreate with pictures of the shows (OK i'm tripping).
Alaia has been selling a variation of 2 dresses for 10 years now and he is still update his old designs or release some old pieces.

About Hedi and Tom, i think that their trajectory are similar even if for me, Hedi has to prove himself as a womenswear designer.
In a way, Tom challenged himself with his menswear. His menswear at Gucci was the total opposite of what he cameback with.

I expected Hedi to challenge himself with his womenswear and that's why i'm still on the fence with his work at Saint Laurent.


Totally Ok with your last paragraph about the perception of people here on a designer's work. I think the last few years of Margiela were very interesting. In a french documentary, someone (i believe from his team) said that the evolution to a much sexier direction for Margiela came from the fact that he thought that in the 00's, the body and the sexuality became a significant part of fashion whereas in the 90's, it was much more about conceptual ideas. That's why he worked so much around the idea of the nude body.

So maybe like perhydrol said, the brand should close for good.


Quote:
Originally Posted by adrienpegon View Post
I personnaly hold Prada responsible of Helmut Lang's fall, they should not have decreased investement in the denim line to invest in accessories, thinking Helmut Lang was a regular luxury brand...
I strongly believe that a certain idea/vision of fashion died when the word "luxury" started to replace "fashion"...

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21-10-2015
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That’s a really great and interesting point about Tom’s menswear for Gucci, and now for his own label, Lola.

I do think that as commercial, even traditional as his menswear now is, I think that it is closer to who he is than his Gucci menswear was. I mean, they’re both essentailly a part of him, thus coming from a genuine place of inspiration. But the Tom Ford man is who he was as a young man-- or idealized as a young man: An LA preppy living in NYC and hanging out at Studio 54. You know, that gentleman’s vibe, that old boy charm and even decadence that’s always consistent in his menswear now is eternally, quintessentially Tom Ford defined. And although I don’t identify with the image, there are always separates there that I will always be attracted to, and that makes it very grounded and instantly relatable for many men as well. With Gucci, the image was so strong and physically attractive, but it always felt more like a performance than reality.

I get exactly what you’re saying about Hedi. It’s weird because women were wearing his Dior Homme designs and looking so great in them, that he didn’t really need to “design” for women in that sense when he returned. But he did— and I suppose he did it in a manner that wasn’t Dior Homme for women, and that disappointed and upset a lot of people. And I admired that despite the criticism for his SLP, he stubbornly, and insistently, sticks by this ideal of his for SLP. And for me, I think the branding is stronger with his SLP than when it was with Yves Saint Laurent Men and Dior Homme, even if the clothes are not.

And if we’re to predict what would be best for the Helmut Lang label, I expect the unexpected… but I don’t know if 10 years later and with the label pretty much having lost its luster, the investors feel it’s worth it... Or, if 10 years is too little time for the people to be hungry for Helmut Lang again...

If, and however the label is going to be brought back, mark my words it needs a Tom Ford for Gucci, or a Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme kind of design vision that’s not only about leading design, but the look, the attitude and the story that goes with it. It doesn’t need a designer trying to figure “what would Helmut do…?” Because, Helmut doesn’t want anything to do with high fashion anymore, and to think like that would be an instant fail if anyone were to attempt to pick up where he abandoned it all.

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21-10-2015
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I don't know. I really can't imagine what could be done with Helmut Lang - if it were to be properly "revived."

It seems to definitively done - a completely closed book. One, because Helmut, himself, is so clearly done with fashion (burning the archives is pretty significant), and two, because the last 10 years of the brand have been so pitiful. It has in no way tarnished Helmut's legacy, but what it has done has eliminated any thirst for the brand to be gloriously "brought back" - at least for me.

I feel like other brands - in particular Philo at Celine - have sort of taken the reigns...she has certainly lifted ideas from Helmut, I doubt Phoebe would even deny that - but it's more the attitude and ethos of modernity...true, provoking, level-headed, useful modernity. No nostalgia, no sentimentality, no shmaltz. Just modern clothes for modern women who live modern lives. I feel like Phoebe is accomplishing what Helmut could or would be like for today (what would her menswear be like, I sometimes wonder).

So - in that sense, I don't really see a need for the brand to be revived. Everything about it, from branding, logos, packaging, campaigns, is so specific to the time that Helmut was designing...not to say that it isn't timeless, because truly, most of his work would look just as breathtaking if shown tomorrow...it's just...maybe let sleeping dogs lay, at this point.

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21-10-2015
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^^
I totally agree about Phoebe Philo being the "modern" Lang but for me her work is based on nostalgia. The nostalgia of Lang and of a fantasy of what the 90's intellectual part of fashion was. The nostalgia of an anti-fashion movement and what worked (and is still working) is that contradiction between a real anti-fashion feel while being in the most corporate side of fashion ever.

What you said about a possible revival is so on point. You can't even do a 360° because everything about it is still so relevant.

I would like to read an interview of him. I wonder what he thinks of Fashion today and his influence on all designers.
He never really talked about the Prada fallout (i believe there is some contracts behind).
I wonder if he is still in touch with some people from the fashion industry.

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21-10-2015
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Does anyome know the legal state of the brand? Who's owning it, if Helmut has any shares, etc? The whole thing was so dramatic (same thing with Jil Sander) that I can't remember where is at.

And yeah, let this brand rest in its glory. I hardly think anyone would be able to capture the same (or 1/10) level of creatively pure brilliance he had. And I agree, I think that old Helmut Lang costumers found new homes (Prada, Céline, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Raf Simons, Rick Owens etc).

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21-10-2015
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Worst thing would be to see someone young and fanatic take over and march overly styled interpretations of Helmut Lang down the catwalk (with inspiration taken heavily from his last Paris years). The label was all about vision and integrity, and that's what's difficult with it. The beauty of Helmut Lang show was that it was so little styled, even so little "designed". I mean this in the most respective way and don't mean to refer to him as a "basics only" label. It's just that his models ALWAYS looked like they could step out of the catwalk and really live their lives in the outfits. That is something that is not present in today's fashion. Both Helmut and Jil had this accidental look in their collections... like the outfits had their own personality and would look totally different on different models, different surroundings etc. Even if they were referred as clinical and minimal, their designs felt very alive. Now when you see a Raf/Celine piece it's really just that and everyone knows where it came from and how much it cost.


Last edited by rip_ian curtis; 21-10-2015 at 04:41 PM.
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