The designer divided between fashion, art and his dazzling career

Helmut Lang is among the stylists who have marked the minimalism of the 90s. Frequent comparisons between his work and that of Rei Kawakubo or Yohji Yamamoto. In the career of Helmut Lang, fashion and art meet, guided by an avant-garde eye, which has innovated the fashion system, promoting the first co-ed shows and the launch of exclusive collections on the internet. Although the designer left the reins of the homonymous fashion house in 2005, his work continues to influence streetwear, of which he was a pioneer, with essential clothes with a strong urban connotation. “If something is good, it will not be out of fashion after six months. The timing of fashion should no longer be as hectic as in the 80s, “he once said.


In 1999 the Prada group took over 51% of Helmut Lang. The designer himself sold his shares to the group led by Patrizio Bertelli in 2004, before retiring from the scene. In 2006 Prada Group sold the label to the Japanese group Link Theory Holdings, now part of the giant Fast Retailing. The brand starts again from Mark Howard Thomas, creative director of menswear, and from the new editor in womenswear residence Alix Browne, who debuted last September with the capsule Under Construction, a reinterpretation of the iconic garments of the Austrian designer. What are these iconic items? His biography tells it.

Helmut Lang, a self-taught fashion designer

Helmut Lang was born in Vienna on 10 March 1956. His parents split up when he is only five months old and is raised by his grandparents in the Austrian Alps. When Helmut is ten years old, his father remarries and takes him back to Vienna. When he became of age, Helmut Lang left his father’s house. In 1977 he opened a tailor-made atelier in Vienna, with no real tailoring training behind him. In the outfits that he proposes there is immediately the spirit of the avant-garde artistic and cultural movement to which he belongs, the Wiener Moderne. The atelier leaps to the headlines in 1979 when Helmut Lang‘s creations are chosen for an exhibition entitled L’Apocalypse Joyeuse at the Center Pompidou in Paris.


The Helmut Lang brand makes its debut in ready-to-wear

In 1986, in Paris, the Helmut Lang brand debuted in women’s ready-to-wear. The following year is the menswear time, the first stage of an expansion of the offer that also leads to the launch of footwear (1990), jeanswear (1994), accessories (1995) and ties (1998). The retail expansion goes hand in hand with the growth of the retail business, with the inauguration of stores in Munich (1995), Milan (1996), New York (1997), Hong Kong and London (1998). To characterize the style of Helmut Lang are austerity and conceptual design: the silhouettes are strict, the lines are always essential, the clothes have neutral colors or are “reduced” to the total black.

Lang is considered one of the pioneers of minimalism in European fashion, with garments that do without unnecessary embellishments, giving the wearer the chance to show off timeless looks.

“If you have a strong identity,” said the designer, “keep on doing what you think is right for you and you are also able to predict the next steps of your brand”. Among the symbolic garments of Helmut Lang’s collections are the bulletproof vest that has been on show with the autumn-winter 1997 (now frequently taken over by Kanye West’s Yeezy), the biker jeans, the laces that tighten the body or slip on the basic garments , recalling the practice of bondage, the bomber and, in general, the military style with cargo pants, padded jackets and parkas.