Helmut Lang names Mark Howard Thomas as creative director of menswear
The house of Helmut Lang has chosen the experienced menswear designer Mark Howard Thomas to be its new Creative Director for menswear. Formerly Paris-based Thomas, 41, joins Helmut Lang from Joseph, where he created an acclaimed series of collections for that London-based house. He took up his new position on Monday morning.
Already, this weekend, Thomas had posted a self-portrait of himself on his Instagram page, reading Calling Time on Paris. He will report to Lang’s CEO, the hard charging New York fashion investor Andrew Rosen, who oversaw the acquisition of Helmut Lang a decade ago.
“Mark is really talented; a major talent in fact, whose skills sit very well with our brand. We are very happy to have him,” Rosen told Fashionnetwork.com.
Rosen added that Thomas’ first collection for Lang will be Fall 2018, to be presented in January during the New York men’s season.
Thomas, who boasts a master’s degree from Central St. Martin’s, began his career in Milan with Neil Barrett, where was noted for distilling Barret’s DNA of off-beat tailoring meets hipster street design into powerful looks that enjoyed both commercial success and critical recognition.
Thomas subsequently joined Givenchy, under Riccardo Tisci. Once again, Thomas’s ability to interpret a brand’s style – in Givenchy’s case a mélange of active sportswear and Gothic fantasy – impressed. It underlined another great strength – the sensitivity to comprehend and respect a fashion’s houses DNA while also taking it somewhere new. Subsequently, he moved to London, to become the menswear director of Joseph. There, his choice of complex textiles – like stone and enzyme washes that subtly broke-down fabrics – underlined a reason he could be an ideal fit at Helmut Lang. The legendary Austrian designer was famous for his skill in working with unlikely fabrics.
Thomas’ move to NYC means that he will have held senior positions in important fashion houses in all of the Big Four fashion capitals, a rare achievement even in our era of highly mobile fashion talent.
Lang founded his fashion business in 1977 in Vienna; by 1986 he was staging runway shows in Paris to instant critical success, his clothes admired for their sharp tailoring and subversive use of high-tech materials. By the late 90s he had moved to New York, and revolutionized the international fashion calendar by staging his shows before the European seasons, forcing fellow American designers to follow his example. A chronology that remains to today. Lang sold control of his business to the Prada Group in 1999, but after falling out with the Italian clan leader Patrizio Bertelli he quit his house in 2004. Two years later Link Theory Holdings bought the Lang fashion business and installed Michael and Nicole Colovos as joint designer directors, positions they held for eight years. Lang no longer has any involvement, and lives and works as an artist on Long Island.
This spring, CEO Rosen named Isabella Burley as editor in residence of the brand. In her first move she invited Hood By Air designer Shayne Oliver to create a special collection, shown during the New York season in September to mixed reviews. Rosen stressed that the Oliver collaboration was “a one-off project.”
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