A dominant fashion force in the '90s, Helmut Lang was a pioneer for designer collaborations, setting out the blueprints for creative crossovers through partnerships with artists including Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer. Since then, these collabs have become a staple in fashion — industry leaders like Raf Simons, Heron Preston, and Virgil Abloh are now notorious for slapping their names on unexpected-yet-buzzy partnerships with neighboring brands and visionaries.
Today, the tides have turned, as Lang — who bid farewell to fashion in 2005 to solely focus on art — partners with Saint Laurent on an artistic collaboration. As part of creative director Anthony Vaccarello's Rive Droite initiative — the brand's new curated and creative retail space — Lang will dig into YSL's archives to craft a series of modern sculptures, which will first show in Paris before making their way to Saint Laurent's Rive Droite store in Los Angeles.
"I've been fascinated by Helmut for years," Vaccarello told Business Of Fashion. "For my generation, he is the ultimate designer of the '90s. I consider him at the same level as someone like Coco Chanel for the way he brought realness into fashion, something that everyone is still copying. Helmut was the first to stand up against artificial promotional messages, his vision and art direction brought everyone back to the real and meaningful essence of fashion."
After exiting fashion, Lang famously shredded thousands of pieces from the archives of his 19-year-long reign at his namesake label, before reusing the textiles to create several sculptures in New York in 2005. In a similar light, Lang's Saint Laurent partnership will reimagine the decades-old legacy of the leading Parisian fashion house in sleek, physical manifestations.