Thursday, 8 August 2013


Minimalism was generally at its peak during the late Eighties and early Nineties, and another pioneer of the movement was Austrian fashion designer Helmut Lang. Although he established his eponymous fashion house in 1986, it was only towards the early Nineties that his simple but elegant designs began to gain major recognition. Lang was interested in using hi-tec fabrics in order to introduce a cleaner, more futuristic incarnation of the minimalist aesthetic. 
Shalom Harlow for Helmut Lang, F/W 1996
A lot of Lang's designs focused heavily around the use of various different shades of white, as well as the utilisation of layered sheer and opaque fabrics to create a textural quality. Texture in general was one of Lang's favourite elements - from looped woolen skirts to sequinned jackets and feathered skirts, there was usually an unconventional fabric choice that was subtly incorporated into an otherwise minimal look. 
Kristen McMenamy for Helmut Lang S/S 1993
Perhaps the biggest way in which Lang helped to develop the mainstream view of 'minimalism' is that he was one of the first designers to really introduce glamour into his version of the look. Kawakubo, Yamamoto and Margiela had all pioneered an extremely avant-garde approach to minimalism, and whilst some of their looks (Margiela in particular) were actually quite feminine, they were usually juxtaposed with heavy concept or social commentary. Lang was different in the sense that his work was usually designed with aesthetic in mind - although some of his designs and collections were intellectual, his main focus was always to design an attractive, flattering garment. 

Kate Moss for Helmut Lang, S/S 1993
Lang also used editorial and advertising in an extremely innovative way - for six years (1998-2004) his campaign collections were shown on the tops of New York City taxis, a move which garnered huge attention and made many other designers become more creative in terms of their presentation. The use of technology also filtered into the way that he showcased his work; for example, in 1998 he chose to premiere a collection on his company website before they were shown at Fashion Week. Lang was truly an incredible designer in the sense that he created a new, more marketable brand of minimalism but still pushed the boundaries with the ways in which he displayed his collections and interacted with the buyers. Of all of the great "minimalist" designers, he was arguably the first that designed specifically for a commercial world, helping to redefine industry standards of glamour and 'high fashion'.

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