July 12, 2007
The billowing white curtains hanging from the ceiling at the Helmut Lang label's new West Chelsea headquarters Thursday hinted at the minimalist-yet-warm tone of the clothes about to make their debut. After two promising capsule showings (spring and fall 2007), this was to be the brand's first "real collection," as a rep called it, since being acquired by Link Theory in the wake of its founding designer's departure. The results? Well, let's just say that the art and media types who've always favored the label won't need to abandon it just yet. Michael and Nicole Colovos's 23-look collection for spring 2008 echoed the eponymous Austrian's intellectually rigorous approach to fashion, while steering clear of slavish retread. The pieces clung to a minimal color palette of white, olive, and black, with a slightly softened silhouette (think voluminous hoods, extended shirts, drop crotches). As with the modern architecture the collection strove to evoke, the clothes' deconstructed detailing ranged from playful (including a cotton blazer with stealthy bomber-style pockets) to borderline pretentious (pointless asymmetry, a cardigan that buttoned up both front and back). Fabrics were an inviting mix of finely woven cottons, supple lambskin, and high tech (an oversized white Crombie constructed of aluminum-fortified "techno crunch"). And an elegantly-proportioned assortment of footwear continued the season's sandal trend, most memorably a strap-heavy leather pair that, er, toed the line between provocative and overwrought. "We're not trying to walk in [Lang's] footsteps at all," Michael said afterward. Maybe so, though it must be comforting to know the path's so well marked.