Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Helmut Lang

Helmut LangHelmut LangHelmut Lang

Helmut Lang (Austrian, b. 1956). Evening Dress (detail), fall/winter 2004–5. White mushroom-pleated silk organza, white silk chiffon, and natural horsehair. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mr. Helmut Lang, 2006 (2006.76).

Helmut Lang designs accrued “street cred” because their uncompromising modernism was also informed by the edginess of the urban demimonde. Sharply tailored with an astringent aesthetic, Lang’s clothing was often constructed of high-tech or unconventional materials. His collections were variously cited as minimalist, deconstructivist, and, on occasion, brutalist.

With this design, Lang combines references to two precipitating strands of the early modern movement—primitivism and classicism. Other designers, from Alix Grès to Azzedine Alaia, have paired tribal and Greco-Roman details in one ensemble, but Lang’s conflation literally layers, rather than merges, his evocation of sources with Hellenic and African effect. In a typical expression of his “raw and cooked” methodology, the designer juxtaposed coarse natural horsehair with finely pleated silk organza and silk chiffon.

“This dress was a made-to-measure piece created for “Scéance de Travail,” autumn/winter ’04–’05, a collection that has a number of influences from Central and Eastern European culture. The horsehair circle, front panel, and fitted top are derived from the representation of reduced key components of the local folkloric costume—skirt, apron, and corset.”

—Helmut Lang

Comments (45)

  1. marcela robbio from manhattan Says:

    I think that is a really interesting. I love Hussein Chalayan.

  2. Liza Says:

    this exhibit was very interseting. I liked how you did a lot of spoofs it made it funny some of the dresses were unusual. my favorite was the pink puffy dress it was beautiful

  3. giancinephile Says:

    Even if draws inspiration folkloric sources, Lang has this very modern edge, a somewhat inevitable contemporary feel.

    I am really missing Lang’s presence in the fashion arena. He is in a class of his own.

  4. Gloria Guinness Says:

    Looks more like a meeting of minds between Madame Grès and Mainbocher, obviously under a classical influence. It honestly doesn’t feel particularly contemporary at all, merely rehashed.

  5. giancinephile Says:

    Fashion does have that tendency to be “recycled” or “re-made.”

  6. Leslie Says:

    A latter-day Emma Hamilton, searching for the perfect costume for a performance of her Attitudes, would be in heaven with this gown. It’s Greek-gossamer wonderful!

  7. MESA Says:

    I tend to prefer fashion that looks like something I could wear. This looks very romantic and not overwhelming.

  8. Mme Laurence Says:

    Every amazon must have a bit of horsehair!

  9. Nancy Marie Says:

    While this is an attractive dress, I do care for layers. Tend to be not comfortable.

    Nancy Marie
    Nancy Marie Paris Fashion

  10. Neil Says:

    I love this, but am disturbed by the use of horsehair. It’s a little too “lifelike” for me.

  11. Tuffy Says:

    The horsehair just looks tacked-on. It doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the dress. And why would any woman want to wear a ballgown with a butt fringe?

  12. Carolyn Says:

    I like it but… the butt fringe.

  13. me Says:

    this is an amazing dress. It is amazing how it was made

  14. Katie Says:

    I love the flowiness of this dress. It reminds me of the dresses the ancient Egyptians wore, and I really like those! I did a project on them!

  15. Kaitlyn Says:

    Its really pretty and looks comfortable with the pleets

  16. Jo Says:

    reminds me of ancient Greek sculptures!

  17. devon Says:

    is he related 2 vera wang? cuz if he is i would totally buy it… wait, his last name is lang… oppppps… blonde moment…PEACE!

  18. Elisa Says:

    This dress is very elegant and flatering.

  19. c willow Says:

    I adore the mushroom pleating. The touch of horse hair makes it eclectic in an elegant way. I wish that I could try it on.

  20. Laurie Aron Says:

    I agree with Gloria Guinness that this dress is a rehash…but with horse hair. Horse hair does not a classic make.

  21. Michele Says:

    interesting discourse on variations of constumes offerings

  22. olivia lennon Says:

    Elegant, simple, and stylish. A definite winner in what’s hot. Marvelous image, copies have been made but not as close as beautiful as this fascinating dress. Not only is it historic but a real step forward in the fashion industry. I would personally love to have this dress in my size, and in my closet.

  23. Cara Says:

    I think that this dress is very nice. Although it is kind of hard to see the detail, I think that I would buy it.

  24. CM Says:

    An intersting combination of materials and contrasting lines - more of a piece of art (as are most avante garde pices)…I like it!

  25. MetPatron Says:

    It’s “fascinating” to hear how “nice”and “interesting” the general public finds this exhibit. One has to wonder, however, aside from the museum’s obvious attempt to be hip/contemporary, if there is truly any point in offering a digital grafitti wall for people to espouse their bland opinions. Myself included.

  26. Justin Says:

    This series of dresses was absolutely stunning. It was wonderful how Lang fused the classical technique of Gres onto a modern, almost althletic looking, sheer base. It gave it a completely modern edge.

    I have to say though that the white one wasn’t my favorite, it was far more stunning in black or inky blue as shown on the runway.

  27. Justin Says:

    In addition I forgot to add that up close that pleating is beyond mesmorizing. I saw it at the FIT exhibit “Love and War”, literally a foot away from my face without any glass to get in the way. It was exquisite, impossible to describe except that the closeup does it no justice. Not a thread in sight.

  28. neenza Says:

    I like this, its very beautiful and could be seen today on the red carpet!

  29. Lily Monir Matini, Esq. Says:

    love the bodice and front/back panels
    don’t know how i feel about horsehair
    as long as they weren’t harmed

  30. Ramona Sky Says:

    I think this dress is gorgeous but hun, what they do to those horses is just sad. And that is the truth.

  31. Gary Kanter Says:

    I love the exhibit and the presentation. I’m just having trouble reading the commentary along side each item. Either the printing is too small. or it isn’t lit quite right, or it’s located in an impossble place to see. FIT seems to have solve this problem beautifully without taking anything away from the items on exhibit. The MET should really check their fashion galleries out.

  32. Dana Pe'er Says:

    We had great fun, looking at dresses over the ages.
    What I enjoyed most was being with my daughter and even more to see that we loved the same dresses.
    Like going shopping without needing a credit card :-)
    Both of us loved the red and black dress that we did not see up in the site to specifically comment on.

  33. Inbar pe'er Says:

    I liked most of the dresses.they were beautiful.
    I liked the calm ones better.not the puffy fancy ones.

  34. Rina Says:

    Beautiful.. it really reminds me of the ancient Greeks, the use of the horse hair is different a little odd, but i think its like a more modern take of the ancient greeks empire waist dresses .

  35. Desmond Says:

    This is beautiful, and very interesting… The combination of the Classical silhouette and the Germanic components is something I haven’t seen before.

  36. Elizabeth Says:

    am i the only one that cant see it?
    its too bright on the screen haha

  37. noemy ferreira Says:

    This dress is amazing, its simple but it has that certain wow to it.

  38. Catalina Says:

    Stunning dress, it is a shame Helmut Lang sold his company. He was one of the true original designers.

    Great exhibit.

  39. Cyndi Says:

    I really love this dress. It’s very pretty. It would have been nice to take a picture of it.. but oh well. It’s really a shame that the picture doesn’t clearly show how beautiful this dress is.
    The exhibit was breath taking.

  40. Cristine Tozser Says:

    this dress is is so amazing..i wish i had a dress just like this one

  41. meimi1995529 Says:

    this is just not beautiful AT ALL!!!! XP

  42. Edmond Says:

    The juxtaposition of the raw horsehair with silk is clearly a response to Alexandrian incursion into Egypt, as well as an echo of the Silk Road and its democritization of fashion and taste between civilisations as far flung as China and Hellenic-influenced Rome. The imposition of a Hellenic or Roman Imperial style on materials native to northern Africa or the central Asian steppe reflects the central irony of Alexander’s rule; the iron-fisted control of much of Europe, Asia, and north Africa by a civilisation now renowned for its introduction of the democratic system. Commentary on the aesthetic value of the piece fails to grasp the inherent value of fashion as political, social, and economic evaluation. In fact, many of the same arguments used in discussion of Post-colonial literature (notably by the theorest Edward Said) could be applied.

  43. BRiiZZY Says:

    beautiful/elegant gown. i would wear it. =]

  44. marina urbach Says:

    ‘Commentary on the aesthetic value of the piece fails to grasp the inherent value of fashion as political, social, and economic evaluation. In fact, many of the same arguments used in discussion of Post-colonial literature (notably by the theorest Edward Said) could be applied.’

    I agree. In his brilliant, seminal book ‘Orientalism’ Edward Said challenges discourses of power, ‘ideological fictions’, like the idea of ‘the Orient’ defined as other than ‘the Occident’, the Orient as almost a European invention.

  45. Charlotte Says:

    j`ai adorer l`exposition

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