Helmut Lang re-ignited in menswear with Mark Howard Thomas

Helmut Lang menswear is back, with soul and a refreshed yet respectful vision, courtesy of new menswear designer Mark Howard Thomas who showed his debut ideas in Paris on Thursday.

“With all that happened with Helmut, I really wanted to put some soul back into the collection; an authenticity. I think its codes are still relevant, as it is about every day and garments that you can really wear. Clothes that express your character,” said Thomas, showing his fall 2018 collection in a fifth floor showroom in the 1st arrondissement.
What stood out were the novel fabric choices, clever revamping of Lang detailing - like interior safety straps - and a sense of subtle subversion that was always a key element in the Lang wardrobe.
Like the milky transparent rubber trench that fitted over a padded white parkas dissected by swathes of shiny waterproofing material; or a great organza matelassé blouson that had great élan. Thomas also played with several classic Lang looks – notably his signature late 19th century Viennese redingote. Though the British born designer artfully modernized the line with a more forgiving silhouette. While also updating traditional Langian materials like his much loved moleskin – like the beautiful version in ecru with satin lapels. Thomas also kept the Lang lettering; reminding us that the Austrian designer began this whole movement of naming your collection on a garment two decades ago. 
Indeed, the collection may well mark an important change of attitude to the brand, since Lang quit the house in 2005, 28 years after founding it, when he had loggerheads with its majority owner, Prada clan chieftain Patrizio Bertelli. Leaving to semi-retirement and a career as a fine artist on Long Island.
Many of those who loved and admired Helmut Lang within the industry quite frankly would, out of respect to Lang, not even attend shows by his successors, never mind going into a Lang boutique. That should change with this collection, given its obvious reverence for the Lang codes, and honest reinterpretation of the Austrian master’s oeuvre. No mean achievement.

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