LONDON — Paul Helbers has put his eponymous men’s wear collection on ice due to production problems and confirmed Friday that the fall 2017 collection had not been delivered to clients.
The Dutch designer cited “a considerable controversy with our production coordination platform in Italy” and said “further development of the Helbers wardrobe will be put on hold for the moment.” He indicated that there were some quality issues. “The affordable high quality of the line is what we believe part of our initial success and requires a rigorous manufacturing standard.”
Helbers said that although the brand will be unavailable on the market, “I will continue to consult on collections, style, interior decoration, photography and visual communication.”
He said his signature brand would remain loyal to the ateliers with which it has been working, and that he is currently studying “alternative set-ups for the coordination of our production and logistics. The deliberate small scale of our company is to be able to work with specialized ateliers who can craft with skill and innovation.”
Helbers launched his first 20-piece collection in January 2016 in Paris, and became known for his laid-back tailoring, rich colors and fabrics. Before going solo, he did a five-year stint as men’s designer at Louis Vuitton under then-artistic director Marc Jacobs.
Helbers conceived his signature line as a functional urban collection that had the “imperfection of artisanal craft” and offered the “contrast between rough and refined.” He described the first collection as having “an unpolished elegance” designed to take the wearer from work to weekend.
After leaving Vuitton in 2011, Helbers served as consulting creative director with several brands, including the women’s ath-leisure brand Callens.
The fall collection looked to 19th-century paintings for inspiration, and in particular to a self-portrait of a young man desperate to look older than his years. The artist was Émile Friant, and his too-big clothes — as well as the dark oil paints he used — were a source of fascination for Helbers.
The collection was soft-edged and cocooning and Helbers approached his designs like an artist would a canvas: A nubby, flecked green sweater was made from 15 colors of yarn, while a blue suit was pieced together from strips of corduroy cut in different directions to create a new texture and mimic the impact of brush strokes.
Shoulders on coats and jackets were soft and rounded, while trousers were roomy with pleat fronts, both reflecting the young artist’s borrowed outfit.