Helmut Lang AW 1994-95
Sound the Alarms! A Massive Helmut Lang Archive Sale Opens at Resurrection Vintage Tomorrow
by STEFF YOTKA
There are few real holy grails in fashion, and yet nearly anything authentically Helmut Lang falls into that category. The Austrian-born designer, who left the industry to become an artist in 2005, was the lord almighty of fashion from the early ’90s up until his retirement, championing clothing with a minimalist, streetwise utility and sculptural details. Look back on his runway shows, cataloged for the first time online on Vogue Runway earlier this year, and you’ll see that his feather-lined puffas and bias jersey dresses have a sort of timelessness, thanks in part to the new guard of designers who plumb Lang’s motifs for their own runway collections today. No shade there—much of Lang’s archive was destroyed in a fire in 2010, meaning there’s not much of the designer’s authentic garb to go around. Until now, that is. Tomorrow Resurrection Vintage opens a massive sale of Helmut Lang pieces that will be staged at both its New York and Los Angeles locations and online. That sound you hear is the collective “whoop!” from fashion folks around the world.
“Like everyone, both Mark [Haddawy, Resurrection’s cofounder] and I loved Helmut’s clothes. We wore them, and as time progressed we started putting things away,” Resurrection cofounder Katy Rodriguez tells Vogue.com. “But the funny thing about Helmut is that we’ve hardly ever sold it. Basically, we bought it because we’ve loved it. It’s funny with this one because it’s sort of like our own time. We’ve been doing this long enough that our own time has come around to collect it. We opened in 1996 in the height of Helmut Lang mania, and started buying it then. I think the reason is that we both just felt such a love for his designs and that period. It was sort of the perfect streetwear.”
Tomorrow Rodriguez and Haddawy crack open their archive of runway pieces, samples, never-produced pieces gifted to models, and more. “We just look for amazing pieces and we get pieces from everywhere,” Rodriguez explains of their process: “dealers, auctions, ex-models, stylists, people who bought the clothes. They come in, especially with his stuff, from all walks of life.”
To those familiar with Lang’s brilliant oeuvre, take note: All the highlights are here. The metallic silver jackets from Fall 1999 are positioned beside the sculptural skirts from Spring 2004. A black parka, also from Lang’s ’99 show, hangs from backpack straps on a mannequin while another wears the tattered jeans sported by Boyd Holbrook on a 2004 runway. (That was back when the now-actor was Lang’s go-to male model.) “If you like Helmut Lang, when you come in, it’s really going to tell a story of his work, especially in the ’94 to ’04 years, those 10 years when they were really on fire making a lot of clothes,” says Rodriguez. “It will be really fun because there will be complete looks and runway pieces and ready-to-wear where you could actually get the whole look. From our perspective, we put it together that way for historical purposes because we work with a lot of museums and collectors. This sale is interesting because there’s both that collector type and the person who wants to buy it and wear it as streetwear.”
To find out why now is the moment the pair wanted to dig in to their massive archive, you needn’t look further than the current runways. “Over the last five years or so the interest in Helmut Lang has just quadrupled. Everyone is really, really interested in his work, and not just designers and stylists but young people, especially. With people like Raf Simons being very popular and other creatives of that next generation who get young people to look back and love that stuff from the ’90s and the early ’00s, Helmut is becoming more and more popular,” Rodriguez explains.
She goes on to equate the Austrian designer to Yves Saint Laurent, the prince of fashion in the ’70s. “When someone really revolutionizes the way we dress day to day and really blurs the lines between men and women, it becomes a massive movement that was so much more than clothes. It really spoke to that time that people were living in and was really about what was happening in that moment. I think that’s the hardest thing to do as a designer.”
Or put it more succinctly: “You never feel when you look at Helmut Lang stuff, well that year ruffles were in,” the collector laughs. In this case, timelessness is next to godliness, and we’ll amen to that.
A selection of Helmut Lang’s archival pieces will be on view and for sale at Resurrection Vintage New York, 45 Great Jones Street; and Resurrection Vintage Los Angeles, 8006 Melrose Avenue; as well as online starting Tuesday, November 15.