Will Peter be Helmut Lang’s saving grace?

Ever since Peter Do burst onto the scene in 2018, he’s been a reminder that every once in a while a designer comes along who is able to captivate with his work alone. No gimmicks, no hype, just a commitment to a vision and an unwavering determination to make it a reality season after season. For this reason, the Vietnamese designer has been one of the most respected rising names in fashion over the last five years – and his mysticism adds to the fact that we rarely see or hear from him. However, yesterday the fashion world saw the announcement that Do would take over as creative director from Helmut Lang. Amid the excitement, the question arises: can Do bring the minimalist brand back to its former glory?

Helmut Lang’s popularity has gone down and down over the past two decades. While the brand has managed to stay afloat and retain its minimalist core, its current direction still falls short of the prestige when Lang was at the helm of his eponymous brand from 1986-2005. The decline of the Helmut Lang brand officially began in 1999 after Prada acquired a 51% stake before being fully purchased in 2004. It should be noted that brand sales fell from $46.3 million in 2001 to $24.8 million in 2004 following the acquisition. Subsequently, Helmut Lang’s departure from the eponymous label in 2005 saw the brand go through several creative directors and “resident editors”, including Michael and Nicole Colovos, Isabella Burley, Alix Browne, Mark Howard Thomas and Thomas Cawson. At one point, the label even used its design team as the lead creative unit.

When the brand re-launched in 2007 under the leadership of Michael and Nicole Colovos, it was clear that the quintessential Lang style was missing. The designers’ spring 2008 ready-to-wear collection was a rather grim excuse for the brand’s personality – marked by a series of asymmetric details on basic garments. Minimum? Yes. But it lacked Lang’s precision and sharpness. Until their departure in 2014, the creative duo created an atmosphere of subdued luxury in a home filled with a mix of unforgettable moments, such as the Spring 2010 collection, which featured odd prints and unflattering silhouettes and pleasant accents, such as the Fall 2014 collection, which delighted with lightness, texture and rich edges.

As the label passed between hands, its style codes changed as well. From Burley to Browne, there were elements of Lang’s vision, but each designer brought his own ideas, which created a sense of unpredictability. For example, Burley brought in Shayne Oliver from Hood By Air, who took over the reins of the RTW collection in Spring 2018. Known for its provocative street style beat, Oliver’s vision for Lang was brought to life with elements such as remixed yet streamlined body-baring tailoring, cut-out tops and remixed dresses. Undeniably fun, it was tailoring with a kink. But did it fit into Lang’s world, that was the question. Regardless of who came on board, the brand’s overall design direction drifted. With multiple power shifts, Helmut Lang has yet to regain his balance. Perhaps this is where Do comes in.

Prior to founding his own label, Do, a FIT graduate, trained with Phoebe Philo – one of the patron saints of fashion – during her acclaimed tenure at Celine, worked with Derek Lam and was awarded the inaugural LVMH Graduate Prize in 2014. see how Do’s past experiences not only led to his signature clean aesthetic, but also what makes him a contemporary minimalist maverick. With 10 collections and three NYFW runway shows under its belt, Do’s has created armor for both men and women – defined by romantic style, sharp cuts, smart layering, oversized silhouettes and luxurious fabrics. In his precision, Do is one of the few contemporary designers who has managed to make his clothes both classic and sexy without easily revealing too much skin.

The immaculate record of this label and its ever-growing popularity have seen Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Jeno, Chloë and Halle Bailey, Johnny Suh, Celine Dion and others wear its luxurious look. With the combination of these accolades and undeniably precise designs, it’s easy to see why Helmut Lang considers Do the right person for the job. However, it is not known whether this will restore Lang’s popularity or serve as another creative period. If that’s any further clue, Peter Do’s Season 24 debut collection for the brand this September will be Helmut Lang’s first NYFW runway show since 2020. That is why the brand is doing everything to ensure that the inclusion of Do in its story is a positive note.

The challenge is to re-install the minimalist precision that Helmut Lang was once known for without being overly individualistic. Do is loved for the clean lines and inherent power his clothes have, so perhaps the designer will try to borrow some of those principles from Lang without creating Peter Do Pt. 2. This would be the best scenario: a combination of beloved history and modern fervor. It’s also possible that Do will abandon the premise of presenting her basic tabletop silhouettes and opt for something completely new. There are several ways this could go, but any way it is is sure to generate a mix of cheers and criticism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *