If you thought that Austria does not have a world-known designer, you are mistaken. He is known as the king of minimalism. Born and raised in Vienna, Helmut Lang has long left Austria to seek business opportunities in New York. His eponymous brand has been established in 1978, through which Lang completely changed the appearance of female silhouette by breaking all known designing rules. Seeing clothes as something that needs to be useful and not only modern and hip, he created pieces defined by strong, sharp cuts and lines. Step by step, he became equal to design royalty of the time, such as Gianni Versace and Jil Sander.
His vision was often implemented to perfection. In 1998 he became the first designer ever to present his collection using live stream method that redefined the traditional ways of communicating with the audience.
What he did for the 90’s fashion scene was insufficiently written about. At the peak of his fame, he was recognized (and most loved) by the young punk and rave scene for which the elite fashion world did not care much. He became the only designer to create unique pieces for the generation of young entrepreneurs: actors, artists, stylists, photographers, editors and publishers. He created white, layered t-shirts, sharp androgynous trousers and perfectly fitted jackets, Crombie coats similar to ones their parents wore back in the day. There was an entire “Lang army” on the streets of New York, often recognized as the cool squad. Wearing Lang meant being cool. His fame was additionally rising due to the fact that the notorious Anna Wintour once stated that he is the “fashion hero of the decade”.
“Helmut came along and at first it was ‘Wait a moment, what’s this? This is not in the spirit of the mid-Eighties,’ which was all about opulence. But then everything crashed and fashion reflected that and Helmut was there to take advantage.”
Due to still unknown reasons, he left fashion scene in 2004. Majority of the brand now belongs to Prada group, while designer duo Colovos maintain his unique creative vision. As a man of few words, he once merely stated that it has become dangerous to be exposed to public too much.
As someone who, from the early childhood, felt strongly connected to the art world he soon replaced fashion with other means of artistic expression. He studied abstract sculptural forms and the space beyond human body. Due to his minimalist aesthetics, critics tended to compare his work to Rei Kawakubo or Yohji Yamamoto. Love towards art eventually lead him to conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, that introduced him to the world of photography. He recently stated that fashion is a drug that needs to be consumed in small portions.
“Fashion is not absolute, it is not eternal and it continuously changes. Believing otherwise suggests we find it as a religion and people must remain free to express themselves individually.”
Minimalism, for which he will eternally be known, is not the only way of his expression. He proved that through exhibition Alles Gleich Schwer in renovated space of Kestnergesellschaft gallery in Hannover. By exhibiting various pieces, he conveyed message that categorization of any kinds suffocates emotions and destroys the ability of experiencing new things. He remains true to the idea that liberating thoughts lead to true happiness.