Some time in the early 2000’s, the advent of street style changed the way we consume fashion globally. Pioneered by the likes of Bill Cunningham, Tommy Ton and Scott Schuman (of The Sartorialist fame) the cobbled streets became the precursor to the runway proper in Milan, London and Paris. Although this concept has been beaten into banality by peacocks at Pitti and self-proclaimed ‘models’, the medium has provided countless netizens with inspiration for how to dress themselves. In Helmut Lang’s latest campaign, Creative Director Thomas Cawson has attempted to capture the essence of this phenomenon.
Utilitarian denim takes centre stage in a series of photos taken by Sunil Gupta, featuring straight cuts and stonewashed finishes straight out of Calvin Klein’s 90s playbook. Also featured are ivory and black jeans in the same block: generous through the rise for those who prefer to wear their jeans a little higher on the hips. On the subject of denim, subtle homage has been paid by Cawson to the much adored trucker jacket initially released by the brand in the 90s. Now, the jacket is being offered in sand suede, contrast collar and dark washed iterations — attempt the ‘Candian tuxedo’ (i.e. double denim) at your own risk.
If denim is the foundation of this collection, then its wildcards are an exuberant dash of tangerine, seafoam and lilac. Cuban collar shirts in vivid shades are stacked on top of white crew necks and scooped tank tops, juxtaposing the bruiser aesthetic with feminine flourishes. For a touch of playfulness, a cartoon depicting a bear with crossed arms is emblazoned on a tank top, which can be seen peeking through an unbuttoned shirt. Military details are sprinkled in the form of double flapped pockets on the chest, harness straps on the calf region of trousers, and tough black leather boots. Whilst much of the women’s offerings are rooted in masculine shapes such as strong shouldered blazers and flared trousers, layered satin tops and dresses are tactfully used to soften looks that are otherwise strictly nocturnal. To wit: FW20 emplaces a strong focus on design with a chameleonic, almost sexless outlook.
To round out the new season, footwear has predominantly been offered in bright shades of orange to serve as an exclamation point to the somewhat demure colour palette presented by the majority of this collection. Silver toned blouson jackets, skirts and trousers also insert a jolt of energy with a slightly futuristic twist, something the Helmut Lang brand has long been known for.
Set against the backdrop of New York’s gritty streets, the pieces exude a lived-in feel and gel well with the harsh angles of the metropolitan city in the lookbook, working a treat in Hong Kong — or any other concrete jungle, for that matter.