Helmut Lang (born March 10 1956), is an Austrian fashion designer, known for his minimalist, deconstructivist, and often severe designs. The fashion label he created, Helmut Lang, still exists today but is carried on without Mr. Lang's involvement.
Originally from Vienna where he set up his own fashion boutique in 1979, Lang branched out to Paris in the early 1980s to be closer to the international fashion scene. He became famous for his simple but refined designs, his slim suits in black or white, his denim collection and the use of high-tech fabrics. Lang eventually took the opportunity of his label's growing success and moved his company's headquarters to New York City in 1997. His fashion was sold in upscale department stores and through select retailers as well as in signature Helmut Lang stores around the world. In 1999 Lang entered into a partnership with Prada Group which resulted in the acquisition of the Helmut Lang brand by Prada in 2004 and Mr. Lang's departure from the label in 2005. In August 2008 he had a solo exhibition at the Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover titled "ALLES GLEICH SCHWER".
Personal life and Origins of the brand
Lang was born in Vienna but grew up in rural Austria with his grandparents. Originally, he studied business to become a banker. It is said that he had not been able to find suitable clothing and thus decided to make them himself as an autodidact. And so he switched over to fashion, set up a made-to-measure fashion studio in Vienna in 1977 and opened a boutique named Bou Bou Lang there in 1979 at the age of 23.
Helmut Lang - the label
His clothes were fairly successful in his native Austria, and, after a fair exhibition of his clothes at the Centre Pompidou in Paris initiated by the Austrian government, he branched out successfully to Paris in 1986 and created the label 'Helmut Lang'. And yet, after communting back and forth between France and Austria, he eventually withdrew from Paris and returned to Vienna in the late 1980s.
At this time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, minimalist fashion was at its height, with Jil Sander, Giorgio Armani and Helmut Lang himself being very popular and successful. His clothes were made with very sharp lines and careful cuts, creating basic but extremely elegant silhouettes in high quality and often high-tech fabrics. Lang's favorite 'colors' were black and white. His slim men's suits were a favorite among fashionable advertising managers and other creatives of the time. He was compared to Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto for his sometimes austere, intellectual designs.
In 1993, Lang accepted a professorship at 'Modeklasse', the famous department of fashion design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
New York City
Lang moved to New York in 1997 and subsequently set up his company's headquarters in 80 Greene St. in SoHo in 1998. This, allegedly, constituted the first ever transcontinental move of a fashion house. In New York, he decided in April 1998, three days before his designs were to be presented to a New York audience for the first time, to show his collection through a live internet broadcast to the world via the newly created company's web site helmutlang.com. As a first in the fashion scene, ads for the brand could be seen on New York taxitops in 1998. The following season he boldly announced to show his collections not only before New York Fashion Week but also before the Milan/Paris runway shows. As a result, with many American designers following suit, New York Fashion Week was permanently moved up six weeks to herald the established runway shows. From 2000 on, print ads for the brand were placed with National Geographic magazine - no other fashion house had done that before.
Helmut Lang fashion
Helmut Lang used to make both a women's and men's line, but kept his collection under a single name and presented both lines in one show. He also introduced an underwear (1995) and jeans (1996) line as well as accessories, such as footwear (1990) and fragrances (1999), but otherwise preferred to keep the brand unified to solidify its identity and strength.
The runway show venues for the Helmut Lang label were switched from Paris (until 1998) to New York and back again to Paris by Prada (from 2002 to 2005). The collections/presentations used to be called 'séances de travail' (French for 'working sessions') by Mr. Lang.
Helmut Lang fashion timeline 1977-1995
This timeline outlines the developments in Helmut Lang's fashion as well significant attributes of key collections.
- Opens made-to-measure studio in Vienna.
- Development of signature collections and made-to-measure service in Vienna.
- First presentation in Paris. Shown off the Paris fashion calendar as part of the exhibition "Vienne 1880-1939: L'Apocalypse Joyeuse" at The Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou.
- Introduction of the first Helmut Lang Men’s collection. Women and Men’s collections are shown together as part of the Paris fashion calendar. Men’s silhouette marked the return of the narrow and tailored suit shown with the white shirt, back tie and made to measure shoes.’’
- Rejects the structure of the traditional fashion show. Introduces the concept of “Séance de Travail”.
- Introduces layering of transparent fabrics in new materials and textures. New approach towards the treatment of these.
- Introduction of Helmut Lang Footwear
- Introduces wet looks, thermal fabrics, paper dresses and American Indian influences.
- Introduces extremely shiny fabrics and textures. Thermal leathers, technical fabrics, padded clothing and body conscious shapes.
- A/W 93-94. Street style / haute couture presented in wool knits, pure cashmere and velvet. Trademark slit and slashed sleeves first introduced.
- S/S 94. Introduces cuffed pants, holographic fabrics, holographic sterling silver jeans, lacquered silks, phantom prints, apron dresses, colored tuxedo stripes, stretch daytime smoking coats, raw denim and customized silk dresses. Introduces hand-sprayed shoes and customized dancing shoes.
- First separate Men’s presentation. Men’s S/S 94 shown as part of the Paris fashion calendar.
- Begins collaboration with Juergen Teller on backstage documentation and advertising.
- A/W 94-95. Latex bounded lace, lacquered silks, smoking coats and suits, nylon veil dresses, airbrush silks and slash geometric patterns on candy colored fabrics. Introduced reflective fabrics and nude as staple color.
- First show presented at 17 Rue Commines.
- S/S 95. Hawaiian techno”, high tech and air-tech. New nylon fabrics introduced.
- A/W 95-96. “Couture customized”, camel and tweeds, bra holsters, chiffon and faille. Introduces two-color bloc paneling.
- Introduction of Helmut Lang Underwear.
- S/S 96. New take on lace for men and women, delicate materials, electro vibe, visible bras, apron belts and contrast layering.
- A/W 96-97. Techno jungle, covered sequins, floral patterns, cargo styles, Japanese Obi style tops and evening dresses. Introduces signature uniform outerwear. Presented with gold blanked covered audience.
- Introduction of Helmut Lang Jeans, featuring khakis, chinos, denims, work wear, casual wear, functionals and protective wear.
- S/S 97. Introduction of sashes, festive and ceremonial wear, dislodged lingerie, tuxedo accessories and colored denim.
- A/W 97-98. Shift toward luxury with the use of classic and pure materials. Reintroduction of fine cashmeres, blended wools and silks. Introduction of funnel neck coats and pleated skirts. Silk tulle, cummerbunds and silk down coated duvet wraps. Definition of new Helmut Lang style with made-to-measure finishing.
- Second separate Men’s presentation. Men’s S/S 98 collection shown as part of the New York fashion calendar.
- S/S 98. Introduction of A-line skirt and dresses. Usage of crinoline and pleats. Reintroduction of the classic white t-shirt. For men, introduction of the urban utilitarian. Vintage, painted and sanded denim. Introduction of fold-out clothes.
- Introduction of “accessoire vêtements”.
- Starts collaboration with Jenny Holzer on all Helmut Lang stores.
- Relocates Helmut Lang from Vienna to New York. First fashion house to make a transcontinental move.
- Presentation of the A/W 98-99 collection over the Internet. First ever Internet based fashion show. Launch of www.helmutlang.com.’’
- Moves the presentation venue from Paris to New York, beginning with the A/W 98-99 collection.
- Introduction of Helmut Lang Eyewear.
- Helmut Lang advertises on New York taxi rooftops. ‘’First fashion house to use this advertising channel’’. Features photography by Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber.
- A/W 98-99. Luxury sportswear translated to luxury eveningwear. Couture-sportwear, volume and silk-furs. Introduction of the signature parka and burnt denim.
- For the S/S 99 collection, Helmut Lang moves the presentation ahead of the European schedule (from November to September), having the impact of shifting the entire fashion calendar.’’
- S/S 99. Utilitarian motorbike pants and arm bags. Flower and phantom prints, washed silver platinum leathers, silk feather coats and peasant looks. Introduction of extensions as major detail.
- A/W 99-00. Introduction of interior strap extensions. Introduction of shearing and colored leathers. Pure sterling silver fabrics and anti-stress materials. Introduction of the neck-rest.
- S/S 00. Electric colors, training gear attributes translated into haute couture cuts and fabric, silk organza, feather detailing and transparent layering.
- Introduction of an extended luxury bag and shoe collection.
- Introduction of the signature industrial rubber band as functional part of accessories and shoes.
- A/W 00-01. Monochromatic uniforms.
- S/S 01. Entomologic and marine biological structures. Austrian “Dirndl” influences, sharp strap compositions and lace-up.
- Launch of Helmut Lang fragrance, Men and Women. Collaboration with Jenny Holzer on Helmut Lang fragrance advertising.
- A/W 01-02. Opaque and sheer contrasts, luxury materials, organza and leather trim details.
- S/S 02. Block panels, patent leather, leopard print silk, fold prints, architectural construction, organza layering and Viennese crochet. Introduction of accessory holsters and fragment pieces,
- A/W 02-03. Structured layering, re-worked fisherman knits, monochromatic and metal blocks, combined scarf-tops and further incorporation of movement.
- Moves the presentation of collections back to Paris. Separate Men’s presentations through 2004. Women’s presentations continues to be shown together with men’s.
- S/S 03. Surf references, Montauk inspired, bright Day-Glo colors, bubble-wrap plastic, high contrast compositions, abstracted wetsuit bands, surf tails, cutouts, inside out made-to-measure trousers, laundry bag pattern, zipper surf couture, zipper smoking stripes and rubber signal prints.
- Limited edition silver choker by Louise Bourgeois.
- Opens made-to-measure studio in New York.
- A/W 03-04. “Urban Warrior” vernacular, aviation fragmented pieces, magnetic flaps, petaled organza, layering as clothing extension, interchangeable and modular pieces, one leg smoking chap and parachute holsters. Introduction of chaps for men and women. Introduction of cashmere and fleece fused material.
- Collaboration with Louise Bourgeois in the creation of limited edition pieces.
- Music by Brigitte Cornand featuring vocals by Louise Bourgeois
- S/S 04. “Dragonfly”, cut outs, battered metal, extended fragment accessories, ornamental pouches, hand wraps, wide color palette, entomologic and urban cowboy references.
- Introduction of metallic patent leather in clothing and accessories.
- A/W 04-05. Eastern European influences, colored shearing, horsehair, copper leather, Hungarian pleats, French maid look, cummerbund tops, drapée holsters, skirt capes, French lace and Russian bark pattern. Introduction of made-to-measure evening dresses.
- Collaboration with Louise Bourgeois in the creation of limited edition pieces.
- S/S 05. Maritime, rope and knot detailing, bathing suit trompe l’oeil waist. 1000 eye / pearl pieces, fishtails and sailor pant tuxedos. Introduction of elastic seersucker.
- Helmut Lang Milan, Via St. Andrea, 14, 20212, Milan, Italy.
- Helmut Lang Vienna, Seilergasse, 6, 1010, Vienna, Austria.
- Helmut Lang New York, Worldwide Flagship Store, 80 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.
- Helmut Lang Headquarters, 80 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.
- Helmut Lang Paris, Store-in-store, Printemps, 64 Bld. Haussman, 75451, Paris, France.
- Helmut Lang Hong Kong, Store-in-store, 228-230 Landmark Central, Hong Kong.
- Helmut Lang Singapore, Store-in-store, 9 Scott Road #02-10/11/12/13, Pacific Plaza, 228210, Singapore.
- Helmut Lang Aichi, Store-in-store, Nagoya Mitsukoshi, Mitsukoshi Nagoya Sakae 2F, 3-5-1 Sakae, Naka-ku Nagoya, Aichi, Japan.
- Helmut Lang Tokyo, Store-in-store, Isetan Shinjuku Men, Isetan Shinjuku Men’s-Kan 3F, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
- Helmut Lang Tokyo , Store-in-store, Isetan Shinjuku Women, Isetan Shinjuku Annex Building 4F, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
- Helmut Lang Tokyo, Store-in-store, Shibuya Seibu Men, Seibu Shibuya Annex B 1F/4F, 21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.
- Helmut Lang Tokyo, Store-in-store, Shibuya Seibu Women, Seibu Shibuya Annex B 1F/4F, 21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya.
- Helmut Lang Seoul, Store-in-store, 2F, Shinsegae Department Store Kangnam Branch, 19-3 Banpo-dong, Seocho-ku, Seoul, Korea.
- Helmut Lang Kobe, Dainichi-Akashicho Building 18, Akashi-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, Japan.
- Helmut Lang Parfums New York, 81 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.
- Helmut Lang Studio, 142 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.
- Helmut Lang Made-to-Measure New York, 142 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012, USA.
- Helmut Lang Paris, 219 Rue Saint-Honore, 75001, Paris, France.
- Helmut Lang Milan (new location), Via della Spiga, 11, Milan, 20121, Italy.
Four different scents were created by Mr. Lang in cooperation with Procter & Gamble, all of which were discontinued with the closing of the brand in 2005. Link Theory has not announced to revive the perfume lines.
- Helmut Lang (women's) - 2000
- Helmut Lang Pour Homme - 2001
- Helmut Lang Velviona (women's and men's) - limited release available exclusively at New York store - 2001
- Helmut Lang Cuiron (men's) - 2002
In February 2005, Mr. Lang founded HL-art to evaluate potential art projects. He has since published excerpts from the projects "Long Island Diaries", "The Selective Memory Series" and "The Top or Bottom Conversation Files" in a number of publications. In September 2007, the East Hampton town board approved Mr. Lang's application for an 'artist's studio permit' for his Tyson Lane residence "to concentrate on other artistic endeavors, such as mixed-media installations, sculpture, and graphic art". Besides his fashion collections, Mr. Lang had already been involved in art exhibitions in earlier years:
This timeline outlines Helmut Lang's presentations in fashion and art.
- "Next Ever After", The Journal Gallery, Brooklyn
- "Selective Memory Series", Purple Institute, Paris
- Helmut Lang, “Séance de Travail”. Paris.
- Helmut Lang, S/S 99. online.
- Helmut Lang, “Séance de Travail”. New York.
- Helmut Lang, “Séance de Travail”. Paris.
- Viennese Modernism. Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris
- VB53, Fondazione Pitti Imagine, Florence
- VB38, Galerie Analix Forever, Geneva
- Kurt Kocherscheidt_Helmut Lang. Trocadero, Paris
- CFDA, Best International Designer of the Year, 1996.
- VH-1 Vogue Award, Best Menswear Designer of the Year, 1997.
- Bildende Kunst Der Stadt Wien, 1997.
- Pitti imagine Award, Best Designer of the Nineties, 1998.
- New York Magazine Best Designer of the Year Award, 1998.
- I.D. Magazine, Design Sistinction Award for Environments, 1998.
- NYC Chapter of the American Instityute of Architects: Award for Interiors, 1998.
- Business Week/Architectural Record Award, 1999.
- The American Institute of Architects, Award for Interior Architecture, 1999.
- CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year, 2000.
- GQ Designer of the Year, 2004.
- Fashion Group International,“The Imagineers of Our Time" Award , 2004.
- LEAD Award, 2005.
This section outlines key interviews and stories that have been made on Helmut Lang (the person) up until 2008.
- 2008 - Wakefield, Neville. “Helmut Lang”. The Journal. Jan.
- 2007 - Silva, Horacio. “Star 90’s”, The New York Times. Sept 16.
- 2007 - Lalanne, Olivier. “Sa Vie, Ses Oeuvres”. Vogue Paris. Nov.
- 2006 - Von Uslar, Moritz. “Die Kunst des Nichts”. Der Spiegel. Nov 6.
- 2006 - Blanks, Tim “Mr. Helmut Lang”. Fantastic Man. Oct.
- 2004 - Antsakli, Alexia. “A Master of Trend Reversal”. Vogue Hellas, Nov.
- 2004 - Kaylin, Lucy. “Designer of The Year”. GQ, Nov.
- 2004 - Alfano, Jennifer. “Inner Sanctum”. V Man, Sept.
- 2004 - Harms, Ingeborg. “Mit Kopf & Herz”. Vogue Deutsch, Sept.
- 2004 - Paquin, Paquita, Saint André Perrin, Cédric. “Helmut Lang”, Liberation Style, Sept.
- 2004 - Poschardt, Ulf. “Eine Stil-Ikone Muss Anonym Sein”. Welt Am Sonntag, Aug 1.
- 2004 - Halley, Pater. “Art, Work, Vienna, Fashion, New York, Helmut Lang”. Index, Apr.
- 2004 - Chenoune, Farid. “Helmut Lang”. Vogue Paris, Feb.
- 2003 - Chayet, Stephanie. “Sous Le Nois, La Volupté”. Elle France, Oct 6.
- 2003 - Benaïm, Laurence. “Helmut Lang Présent Futur”. Le Monde, Sept 27.
- 2003 - Browne, Alix. “Helmut Lang”. V Magazine, Sept.
- 2003 - Frankel, Susannah. “Modern Master”. The Independent Fashion Magazine, Sept.
- 2003 - Heath, Ashley. “House of Lang?”.Arena Homme Plus, Sept.
- 2003 - Heiss, Desirée, Petronio, Ezra. “Interview With Helmut Lang”. Self Service, Sept.
- 2003 - Lalanne, Olivier. “Gang Lang”. Vogue Paris, Feb.
- 2002- Feldmann, Lisa. “Helmut Uber Heimat”. Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nov 23.
- 2002 - MacSweeney, Eve. “Bread, Water & Inspiration”. Vogue, Jan.
- 2001 - Van Versendaal, Dirk. “Der Richtige Riecher”. Stern, Oct.
- 2001 - Furniss, Jo-Ann. “A Simple Plan”. The Independent Fashion Magazine, Sept 15.
- 2001 - Poschardt, Ulf. “Das Suchen Bleibt”. Welt am Sonntag, Jul 29.
- 2001 - MacSweeney, Eve. “Der Kult-Cowboy”. Profil, Apr.
- 2001 - Renaux, Pascal. “Lang is Love”. Numero, Apr.
- 2001 - Mayer, Margrit, “Das Labor Des Dr. Lang”. Architectural Digest Germany, Feb.
- 2001 - Hüetlin, Thomas. “Der Insichtbare Modeschöpfer”. Spiegel Reporter, Jan.
- 2001 - MacSweeney, Eve. “Helmut Lang”. Arena, Jan.
- 2000 - Seabrook, John. “The Invisible Designer”. The New Yorker, Sept 18.
- 2001 - Wrede, Andreas. “Helmut Lang”. Welt am Sonntag, Aug 20.
- 2001 - Singer, Sally. “Scents & Sensibility”. Vogue, May.
- 2001 - Burger, Jörg. “Ich Hade Einen Traum”. Die Zeit, Apr 13.
- 2001 - Harms, Ingeborg. “:Mit Unfehlbarer Hand”. Frankfurter Allgemeinte Zeitung, Apr 1.
- 1999 - Mower, Sarah. “And Still I Rise”. I-D, Oct.
- 1999 - Foley, Bridget. “The Sleeping Giant”. W, Sept.
- 1999 - Mower, Sarah. “Significant Other”. Telegraph Magazine, May 8.
- 1999 - Reed, Paula. “The King of The Coups”. The Financial Times. Apr 10.
- 1999 - Mayer. Margrit, J. “Lang Lebe Helmut:. Vogue Deutschland. Apr.
- 1998 - Picardie, Justine. “Modernism The Easy Wat”. The Sunday Telegraph Magazine. Oct 18.
- 1998 - Armstrong, Lisa. “The Austrian Empire”. Vogue UK. Sept.
- 1998 - Mower, Sarah. “Helmut Lang USA”. Harper’s Bazaar. Sept.
- 1997 - Burger, Jörg. “Helmut Lang”. Zeit Magazin. Aug 8.
- 1997 - Mayer, Margrit J. “ Helmut Lang Dans Le Texte”. Vogue Paris. Aug.
- 1997 - Gächter, Sven. “Minimalist”. Das Magazine. Mar 23.
- 1997 - Hirschberg, Lynn. “The Little Rubber Dress, Among Others”. The New York Times. Feb 2.
- 1996 - Flett Flanagan, Kathryn. “And All Because The Lady Loves…”. The Observer Life. Oct 6.
- 1996 - Howarth, Peter. “The Designer”. Arena. Sept.
- 1996 - Buckley, Richard. “King of Cool Helmut Lang”. Dutch. Jun.
- 1996 - Reder, Christian. “Helmut Lang”. Springer. Mar.
- 1995 - Horyn, Cathy. “The Devil In Helmut Lang”. Vanity Fair. Nov.
- 1998 - Zahm, Olivier. “Langfoid”. Artforum. Oct.
- 1998 - Von Uslar, Moritz. “Ein Gespräch Mit Helmut Lang”. Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Mar 3.
- 1994 - Espen, Hal. “Portrait of a Dress”. The New Yorker. Nov 7.
- 1994 - Watson, Shane. “Cool hand Lang”. Elle UK. Sept.
- 1994 - Brampton, Sally. “Langevity”. The Guardian Weekend. Aug 20.
- 1994 - Spindler, Amy M. “Helmut Lang: Fresh Glitter”. The New York Times. Jul 17.
- 1994 - Mower, Sarah. “Brilliant”. Harper’s Bazaar. Feb.
- 1993 - Tredre, Roger. “The Maker’s Culture; The Wearer’s Imprint”. The Independent. Sept 9.
- 1993 - Lutterbeck, Claus. “Der Exot Aud Dem 5. Stock”. Stern. Apr.
- 1992 - Crowley, Deidre. “Helmut Lang”. Arena. Dec.
- 1991 - Traska, Monique. “Helmut Lang: Ein Konservativer Anarchist”. Die Presse Magazin. Jul 1.
- 1990 - Kaup, Katia D. “Une Manif Pour Helmut Lang!”. Le Nouvel Observateur. Mar 29.
- 1987 - Fontana, Jole. “Helmut Lang – Purist Aus Passion”. Textiles Suisses, Dec.