Helmut Lang's show began innocently enough, his trademark sleek trousers, body-conscious tops and functional overcoats redone for Spring in nubby silk-knit burlap. The looks were pure Helmut: functional, urban and modern. But then, gradually, a wave of sexual innuendo began to escalate. A tape-like strap was strategically placed on a semitransparent top; a bikini bottom was paired with a deep-plunging tank. Finally, a procession of crisscrossed, bondage-inspired dresses and tops whizzed through the audience. Lang, the designer who pioneered androgynous, uniform dressing, had designed a brilliant collection that could go from a Tribeca loft cocktail party to an alleyway midnight rendezvous west of Times Square.
Many of Lang's I-didn't-mean-to-turn-you-on minidresses referenced Azzedine Alaïa, whose influence can be seen just about everywhere these days. But, as always, Lang made the look his own. Slim trousers featured circular cutouts on the side; leather coats and dresses were perversely punched with holes, giving them an intimidating, gothic feel. Not quite ready to walk into the office wearing full-on dominatrix garb? Not to worryyou'll still find plenty of Lang's reliable basics to choose from.