Pressure hung heavy on Peter Do’s shoulders leading up to his Helmut Lang debut. The designer – who has amassed a loyal family amongst serious shoppers and wide-eyed, young fashion fans alike through his own label – now has a duty to revitalise another brand which has never quite been able to live up to the grandeur of its own namesake. Mr Lang, one of American fashion’s most influential forces, exited the industry for the art world in 2005. Since, the label that bears his name, acquired by Fast Retailing in 2006, has cycled through a slew of creative directors in an effort to capture the raw elegance that propelled Lang’s collections to become something of fashion legend in the first place.
Whilst the task at hand seems gargantuan, Do is determined to reinstate Helmut Lang’s status as a leading force in American design. Before the show, undeniably the week’s most anticipated, he spoke of wanting to create a brand that could dress New Yorkers from all corners of the city. He lent into his own tailoring expertise with lean suits that came traced by car seat belts repurposed as magenta and taxi yellow trims – subtlety nodding to Lang’s bondage codes. Do had been thinking not only of Lang’s ingenious advertising across taxi cabs in the late 1990s, but the luxury he felt upon riding in his parents’ car when he moved to Philidelphia from Vietnam in his early teens. He would also muse on the safety riding in cars brings, particularly for queer people, with the help of Vietnamese-American writer Ocean Vuong, who’s words decorated vests, back-to-front dress shirts and the concrete floor of the showspace.
There was a lot to be excited by here. From the bubble skirt organza frocks to hoodie-leather jacket mash-ups and slick denim-wear set to impress a legion of Lang devotees. Hopefully, he can entice a new generation, too.
Photography by Chris Fragkou.