This year marked the return of the Helmut Lang label to the marketplace, and the brand has opened a new store in the Washington Street space that formerly housed Girlshop. Those expecting the Helmut Lang of years past will notice some differences. Lang himself left the company that bears his name in 2005 during the time that Prada was mismanaging the hell out of it, and currently has nothing to do with it, and no plans to ever rejoin the company. What was left of the brand was purchased by Japan based Link Theory Holdings, parent of popular brand Theory. They in turn hired Nicole and Michael Colovos (who had just left Habitual, the company they had founded) to reposition the label as a contemporary sportswear line.
That leaves us with a pricey collection of what looks like Helmut's Greatest Hits, though in all fairness, sometimes that's what the line looked like when Helmut was designing it himself. The famous denim line has returned, though we flummoxed as to why the Colovoses (Colovi?) chose to dispense with the jeans' signature generic detailing and redesign them to vaguely resemble Earnest Sewn's, their next door neighbor. There's still plenty of appealing clothes that reflect Lang's rigorously minimal aesthetic, though with a little less of his inventiveness and bite. Still, it's enough to attract customers like supermodel and naked t-shirt subject Helena Christensen who was shopping there during our visit.
As for the store itself, the minimal décor recalls the Lang's former SoHo showplace, though less pristine and on a much smaller scale. One major improvement here is that while one could easily wander the SoHo store completely unacknowledged, the new staff is much friendlier and more helpful and quick to let me know that the men's merchandise was 40% off. Lang' owners have described the new store as "temporary" until they find an optimum space (wherever that may be), but we're guessing that they will be there for a while.
Helmut Lang 819 Washington Street between Little West 12th & Gansevoort Streets, Meatpacking District