Byline: William Middleton

PARIS — What does Helmut Lang have to say about the rumors he might take over as designer at Balenciaga?
“Good question,” was the designer’s slightly cryptic answer, when reached by telephone Thursday in his Vienna apartment.
Lang wouldn’t deny the rumors, and even admitted he has had discussions with the house, but suggested he has other priorities.
“Right now, two weeks before the fall season, the Helmut Lang collection is the most important thing for me,” he pointed out, “so I’ve put off any other decisions until afterwards.”
The house of Balenciaga had a different take on the story. “I’ve never met him,” insisted Jacques Konckier, president of Groupe Jacques Bogart, Balenciaga’s parent. Konckier emphasized that Balenciaga currently has a designer.
“Josephus Thimester’s contract runs for two seasons, through the October collections, and his attorneys are proposing a contract renewal,” Konckier said. At the same time, Konckier complimented the Austrian designer. “Mr. Lang is someone who has enormous talent and for whom I have the utmost respect,” he volunteered.
Lang has his hands full these days, not only with his collection, but with the back-to-back opening of two boutiques. He launched his first store in Munich last fall, and the second Helmut Lang boutique opens today in Milan on the Via Saint-Andrea, the designer noted.
The 700-square-foot boutique is located in the former Kashiyama space across the street from Prada.
Lang will unveil his third shop, of 2,500 square feet, next Tuesday in Vienna.

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