What Happened to Clothing Designer Helmut Lang?


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by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

November 13, 2006


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Since Helmut Lang left the clothing design industry in 2005, his fans have wondered what would become of him and his legacy, defined by an urbane, minimalist aesthetic. Here's where the legend's career in fashion stands, at least for the present.

Helmut devotees shouldn't hold their breath for a major comeback - there appears to be little sign that Mr. Lang will return to Prada, the fashion house the Viennese-born designer recently sold his business and label to. Not long after Prada bought Lang's look, they turned around and sold it, following the then current trend among clothing design marketers to build luxury brands by offering expensive leather bags in the glass-walled boutiques of pricey shopping districts.

Unfortunately for those involved, the plan failed. They never came up with a handbag that sold, and a new fragrance introduced received little enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, it is said that Mr. Lang is pursuing a relatively reclusive lifestyle, or is, at the very least, expressing little interest in catching a photo op at one of New York's many fashion-related social gatherings. Instead, he's thought to be spending time at his seaside retreat in South Hampton.

There remains reason for celebration, or at least a spirited eagerness, however, in the soon arrival of a new line of Helmut-labeled clothing. The husband and wife clothing design team Michael and Nicole Colovos will introduce their own take on the Helmut label next spring. Stay tuned for that.

Lessons for Fashion School Students
There couldn't be a better case study for fashion school students to scrutinize. Here you have all the important areas of the fashion industry represented - design, business, and fickle consumer tastes. Many say Mr. Lang was unable to change with the times during the '90s, when consumers began to shun his trademark minimalism.

In studying this example, fashion school students can learn about the clothing design business, and the ups and downs that go along with it. It's a great way to prepare for your own career in fashion, and get a head start on it by considering the evolution of a career in fashion which could very well become a cautionary tale remembered only in fashion school.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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