Designer Helmut Lang is officially back, but this time his show is taking place in a gallery instead of on a catwalk. Lang may have built a successful fashion house, but for him, clothing was just one kind of artistic expression. After selling his self-named label to Prada a decade ago, he began to pursue his interest in art. Now, he’s ready to show the world what he's been working on. This past week marks the opening of Lang’s art show in New York City—his most public move in years.
Lang made a name for himself in the '80s and '90s, proving to be a detail-oriented designer with a distinctly modern aesthetic in many ways—he was even the first designer to broadcast a show on the Internet in 1998. Fashion was not his end goal, however. He stumbled into the fashion world at a young age after making his own clothing, and says now that, though “it was successful and a great experience,” he is ready to take on art in a purer form—art for art’s sake.
It appears Lang is sticking to his envelope-pushing roots, and will incorporate an element of his fashion legacy into his new path. How? The Wall Street Journal reports that his sculptures will feature shredded pieces of fabric from the pieces in his own clothing archive! He says he put the clothes through an industrial shredder following a fire that struck the storage space in 2010. Talk about recycling!
What can we expect from Lang’s newest designs? Here are some of the aesthetics we're hoping he has replicated:
1. Mixed media
Lang liked to make clothing out of unusual materials such as rubber. In this look, a relatively normal outfit gets a feathery twist. He also often paired unexpected materials in surprising ways. With his use of shredded fabric, we already know he is challenging conventions again.
2. Reinvention of old concepts
In the designs above, Lang took his menswear basics in an entirely new direction. He undoes their symmetry, and adds and takes away fabric in surprising places.
If there is one hallmark of a great artist, it is the ability to do something that is both simple and new. Lang was known for his minimalism, and seems to remain committed to the idea that you shouldn’t do too much to a piece of art. He told the WSJ that he believes “when a work matures... you know it is a good idea to stop.”
4. Striking lines
Lang has often used lines in surprising ways, cutting out new shapes and patterns. Yet, he consistantly did so in a clean and simple way.
5. Raw emotion
Fall/Winter 1999 Ad Campaign
Though simple, Lang’s collections always had a bit of an edge. From being the first in high fashion to put his advertisements on top of taxis, to publishing print ads that were almost aggressive in their straightforward simplicity, Lang’s approach has always been one seemingly in touch with the very essence of what it is to be human.
Whatever it is Helmut Lang does next, we have a feeling we won’t be disappointed.