Creative director Mark Howard Thomas has been tasked with recontextualizing Helmut Lang for a new audience. His first runway show for men’s and women’s set the tone for what the storied brand stands for today, and how it can move the needle going forward. It was all about the new uniform, stemming from sartorial roots that evolved into modern takes on workwear at once provocative and refined, understandable and alluring.
“We really started to look at what the suit could be, what it represents for a man, and what it was for a woman,” Thomas said ahead of the show. It was a natural inclination for the designer, who honed his skills at Joseph, Neil Barrett and Givenchy.
He revealed a sophisticated hand when paying homage to artist Joseph Beuys’ “Felt Suit” — something quite clean and mundane — through a precisely cut coat, jacket and utility sets. He redefined what components make up a suit by layering in soft skirts and dresses filtered through a tailoring lens.
He played to the youthful side of tailoring through the creative construct of a coat-cape hybrid, and by layering in soft, sheer button-downs to offset tough leather pants or a bold red suit. Classic jean jackets and five-pocket jeans were refashioned in gray wool felt and a bright pink twill for both men and women as updates to workwear.
Thomas Cawson, creative director of jeans, expanded by saying: “Mark’s obviously trying to take extremely sophisticated forms of clothing and make it feel really youthful and strong and I’m trying to take kind of generic quotidian clothing and elevate it. That’s where we meet.”
For men, Thomas offered up luxurious examples of overcoats and suits in gray flannel and melton wools that he updated by pairing them with sheer T-shirts, nylon tank tops and tapered trousers. But the offering wasn’t all classic. Thomas also reworked military parkas for men in transparent rubber polyurethane and created shiny black puffers worn over leather pants. Cawson injected color and livened up the assortment.
While the two designers might on the surface seem to have markedly different messages, they in fact, worked seamlessly together to address all facets of a modern wardrobe.