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text by: Riccardo Slavik

In the liquid world, submerged in nostalgia, we see brands of all types trying to bubble back up to the surface, as hip labels like Vetements team up with late 90’s and early 00’s icons like Juicy Couture to capitalize on millennials’ desire to go back to their infancy during these troubling times, and hot-name designers team up with heritage sportswear brands that have long lost their cool but are apparently getting their groove back, a designer’s looming influence has been spreading steadfastly. Helmut Lang’s iconic influence has been at the forefront of fashion for quite a few seasons now, with homages, rip-offs, a quasi-monographic issue by cult mag 032c and prices of the designer’s pieces on the vintage market rising by the week. A quick look at Tumblr will show you that the Lang revival it’s not confined to nostalgic 50-somethings looking back at a time when fashion had a capital F, the punk minimalism and precise imagination of the Austrian designer is gaining younger followers and the quest for coveted archive pieces is getting frantic.
It’s not surprising then, that the label, relaunched in 2006, ( in 2005 the designer left the label and it was sold by Prada), is finally trying to capitalize on its cult status after years of not quite stellar outputs. The second Lang reboot is apparently not the usual grab-a-name-designer-stick-it-in-a-label-and-pray gimmick, instead, it will play on the current obsession with collaborations and interdisciplinary cross-pollinations. Taking inspiration from Lang’s long list of artistic partnerships and finally capitalizing on its rich archival heritage, this new incarnation of the Helmut Lang label, helmed by Dazed and Confused’s editor-in-chief Isabella Burley, operating under the title “editor-in-residence” ( which in itself is a genius idea), will present a series of guest-designer collections, starting on September 11 with Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air, and will also present regular capsule collections of key items from its past. ‘The intention is to celebrate those great archival pieces, reignite the conversation, and introduce Helmut Lang to a new generation of kids so that they can respond to the legacy in their own way. The in-house design team and the creative team that I lead were in constant dialogue about the items to be re-released. We really wanted it to be gender-fluid, unisex pieces’  Burley recently told Vogue.co.uk

“I really see [the rotation of designers] as a strength. The brand has such strong roots, there’s a very clear aesthetic, there’s a lot for people to respond to.”

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Will the reappropriation of the classic Lang logo and small capsules of re-edited archive pieces be enough to rekindle the flame of this iconic label? I guess it will depend on the quality and timing of the collaborative collections and the pricing of the re-issued items; it won’t be easy building up a following strong enough  to contrast the fetishistic appeal of a 1995 original Helmut Lang piece, especially as long as the prices don’t skyrocket like some of the most coveted Raf Simons coats and bomber jackets ( now going for up to 25000$), but it certainly seems like a direction that could make the label interesting again. The relaunch campaign, preceded by humorous GIF ads on the label’s Instagram account ( one quasi-quoting famous Lang collaborator Jenny Holzer) and shot by talented upcoming photographer Ethan James Green,  features a diverse mix of ‘Lang icons’ ranging from Traci Lords to Shayne Oliver, a stark,  black and white kaleidoscope of ages, races and personalities wearing the label’s heritage pieces mixed with the newest offerings, and seems quite geared to attract a new generation to the iconic label. As one of the preceding ads states: It Will Impress Your Parents!… but ultimately it will only work if they manage to sell it to everybody.

Photographer: Ethan James Green
Editor-in-Residence: Isabella Burley
Styling: Robbie Spencer
Hair: Holli Smith
Make-Up: Kanako Takase
Set Design: Julia Wagner
Casting: Establishment
Creative Advisory: Framework

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PS

If you can’t wait for the re-issues and want to see some interesting vintage Helmut Lang pieces head over to ENDYMA, a new archival designer store with an amazing edit of key pieces from the likes of Lang and Raf Simons.