A Tale of Two Collections: It Was Not the Best of Times

Left: Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Right: Ralph Lauren Spring 2024

By all accounts, Friday, the first official day of NYFW, is a banner day for “Great American Sportswear.” It was Peter Do’s debut for Helmut Lang and Ralph Lauren’s return to the NYFW schedule. Unfortunately, it was not an auspicious beginning for either of them.

Of course, the eyes of the fashion world focused on the 2 p.m. Helmut Lang show on Broome Street. To say it was a disappointment is an understatement, especially given Do’s heralded talents, all the hype and anticipation surrounding the event, and what is potentially at stake.

Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo Courtesy of Helmut Lang

What initially put Peter Do on the map with his eponymous line is Do’s sophisticated simplicity, resulting in a highly impactful minimalism, not to mention the perfection of the fit of his clothes. On Friday afternoon, what unfolded was a very immature exploration into the genius of Helmut Lang, and Peter gave us the most commercial suggestions.

Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo Courtesy of Helmut Lang

It was a bit contrived and tried too hard to be hip and cool. Helmut didn’t try. He just WAS, and thus, so were Helmut’s clothes. Also, the fit was off, and much of the technical mastery continually defining a Do collection was absent. Instead, crooked basting threads came out of the side seams, and the black coats and jackets were inexplicably lined in white so you could see the white edges peeking out.

There was a throwaway luxurious effortlessness which was lacking last night. I don’t know the line’s price points, but it did not look luxurious or expensive. I understand that the clothes are made in the Uniqlo factories in the Orient, but they will not be cheap.

Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo Courtesy of Helmut Lang

In his own line, Peter is known to strike a perfect balance between the classics and the avant-garde with subtle yet statement-making details. Unfortunately, there is nothing subtle about Do’s Helmut Lang debut.

Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo Courtesy of Helmut Lang

Pink (aren’t we all overly saturated with pink by now?) and taxi cab yellow were often turned into garish color blocks (who is the customer for these pieces?) or used as sashes that appear across coats and jackets. The sashes were not only too wide; they had the unfortunate look of “DIY.” It was as if you went to a notion store like M&J Trim, purchased colorful ribbons, and just tacked them on.

Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear Photo Courtesy of Helmut Lang

Sure, the denim is great and there were some nice pieces, especially if you take them apart and remove the sashes, but the overall effect of this collection is as if you gave a design student an assignment to put their spin on Helmut Lang’s archives. It is a bit “loving hands at home,” lacking technical know-how and complexity, and just an obvious homage. With the logo t shirts, it tried too hard to be hip and cool.

Helmut Lang Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo by Hunter Abrams

One of the most notable things about Peter Do’s designs is his brilliant use of metal. There is always just the right amount of gleaming silver, which adds to the modernity of the clothes. Other than a pair of handsome, tall black leather boots on sturdy silver metal heels and zippers, they were completely absent from the collection. Also, Peter is known for his wonderful way with black leather. Too bad there weren’t more pieces like the slouchy black leather bomber.

It’s a very unfortunate beginning, but perhaps the money will allow Peter to continue his own company.

Ralph Lauren Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

As for Ralph Lauren, what’s with the unflattering “harem” pants that keep reappearing throughout the show? There is already so much that is ugly, strange, and tacky out there. I want to be blown away by “chicness” right now. With tailoring at the forefront, one would think this would be a great moment for Ralph. Instead, he focuses on boho.

Ralph Lauren Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear Photo Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Moreover, we all love denim, and we all live in denim. Still, if you’re going to begin a fashion show with denim, it better be sensational, and I don’t consider the first outfits on Ralph’s runway especially remarkable.

Ralph Lauren Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear: Photo Courtesy of Ralph Lauren.

I look to Ralph for great haberdashery and his old-world glamour. Sure, there were a few natty suits, a smattering of military style jackets offhandedly paired with fanciful pants (one pair in black chiffon and feathers was notable,) a liquid gold tuxedo, a group of sinuous gowns in gold and in black matte jersey. Still, with all the brash color, busy patterns, colorful beads, oversized belt buckles, and massive fringe (often used together), it was too South Beach for my tastes.

Ralph Lauren Spring 2024 Ready-to-Wear Photo Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

It reminded me of the movie, “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” FYI, JLo, who was fringed out the other night at the Coach show, was in attendance, and I could imagine her wearing much of the collection.

Photo by Joshua Kamei

Joshua Kamei, aka “The Ladies of Madison Avenue,” videotaped some of the guests (including Diane Keaton and Cara Delevingne) arriving for the show, and many looked better in their chic black Ralph Lauren dresses and ensembles than what was shown inside.

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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