Scene setting: One of the most anticipated shows of the season, Shayne Oliver’s take on the Helmut Lang brand was primed to ruffle some feathers. Oliver, who put his label Hood By Air on hold for the sake of the collaboration, chose to present his collection within the recently defunct Pearl River Mart. Bordering Soho and Chinatown, the venue’s dual nature was an appropriate precursor for the presentation to come.
Mood board: While the Helmut Lang name may be synonymous with 90s minimalism, Oliver’s provocative, gender-fluid aesthetic showed few signs of being watered down. Mixing up Lang’s model muses from the 90s with a diverse range of street cast personalities on the runway, Oliver sent out broken down iterations of Lang mainstays such as tailoring, leather and unisex dressing, and amped them up with the fetishistic panache he is known for. Cut-out bra panels, leather belts and buckles, and bondage straps of all shapes and sizes reflected both Oliver and Lang’s take on sexuality, and brought an electric charge to the garments.
Finishing touches: The same attitude permeated accessories too. Leather bra-shaped bags, ranging from handbag to holdall size, Perspex briefcases, newsprint totes emblazoned with Helmut Lang branding and manilla-folder like clutches, were recognisable yet abstracted enough to pack a serious design statement. If next season is too long to wait, a re-edition of 15 unisex Helmut Lang pieces, which were originally created between 1997 and 2005, is now available.