Byline: Carmen Borgonovo

NEW YORK — “The sports utility trend has become a staple in everyday clothing, but it’s no longer newsworthy in fashion,” says Helmut Lang. “Instead, there’s a return to being well-dressed, a new sophistication. It’s about looking polished by matching your shoes with your belt and handbag.”
Lang expressed these surprising sentiments in an interview on Thursday. His new accessories collection, part of a series of changes planned for his company in its joint venture with the Prada Group, is being shown in Milan this week. It consists of women’s and men’s shoes, leather goods, belts and bags.
The women’s collection is notably sophisticated and, for Lang, very feminine. Shoes range from variations on the ankle-strap sandal he has used to accessorize past shows to slingbacks and mules in such materials as silk satin, UltraSuede, napa leather and stretch tulle. Handbags include clean-cut envelope clutches, elongated shoulder bags, totes, drawstring numbers and shopping styles in leather, suede, cotton batiste or poplin, organza and silk satin.
But the line’s outstanding feature is its wide range of colors, from the expected black, white and nude to shocking pink, cardinal red and bright blue. Then there are the decorative accents: chicken, ostrich or marabou feathers which attach, for example, to the back of a sandal and wrap delicately around the ankle.
Lang’s new belts include sashes in shades that match those of his evening bags and shoes, along with feather, cargo and multicolored striped numbers. He’s also doing such travel pieces as duffels, carry-ons and larger bags in materials like cotton, suede and Kevlar .
Wholesale prices for the collection range from $44 to $125 for shoes, $24 to $322 for bags and $31 to $49 for belts. Distribution of the line is not yet complete, but it will be available at Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour, L.A., San Francisco and Ala Moana, Hawaii, along with Printemps in Paris, Browns in London and Helmut Lang boutiques worldwide.
As in his ready-to-wear collection, the designer’s message of understated elegance with an edge is quite clear. “Everything out there is either too mainstream or too elaborate,” he says. “I am not trying to create fashion label pieces. I just want to create the right pieces in the right colors and shapes.”