1991 Deconstructed Knit Dress with Transparent Jersey Overlay
Size JP 9 Regular: Best for a Women's UK 8/US 6 or a slim UK 12/US 10.
Helmut Lang layered dress from S/S 1991. In brand new condition with minor storage wear. Made in Italy.
'1991 spring/summer ready-to-wear fashion shows begin. [We] have uncovered a rare bird: a minimalist star devoid of ostrich feathers and glitter. His name is Lang. Rest assured, his first name is Helmut and he's Austrian. This clothing designer came to Paris as a total unknown 4 years ago.'
-Antenne 2 feaure on Helmut Lang, October 18 1990
S/S 1991 was James Scully's choice in Nicole Phelp's Vogue article 'The Sexiest Runway Shows of all Time'. He describes:
"I remember [...] the whole audience complaining that the room felt overly humid, but then the lights went up, the heat was turned higher, and a watershed moment began. [...] The parade at Helmut was like machine-gun fire, one model after the other. Every man and woman with bare, flushed faces and wet hair like they just stepped out of a hot shower, wearing rubberized suits, [...] see-through dresses and catsuits with beads and feathers [that] were the only thing barely covering the girls' naked bodies underneath, the male models were clearly not wearing underwear, and half the cast was in bare feet. [...] I'll never forget how visibly uncomfortable the audience was watching the parade of overt yet stripped-down beauty—the sexual tension in that room was beyond electric!
Woody Hochswender [...] asked, 'Is it my imagination or did that show just make the audience horny?' It was a true fashion moment, a master class in raw sensuality that I have not witnessed since, and it signaled the arrival of Helmut Lang as one of fashion's masters."
This dress features one of Lang's classic silhouettes from the early 1990s, and variations of the design where presented in several of his early runway shows (pictured: S/S 91, A/W 91, S/S 92). Based on a simple short-sleeve T-shirt, the piece consists of two contrasting fabrics: A compact structured knit in drab and off-white stripes creates the garment's foundation, while a layer of transparent nylon jersey clings gently to the body, draping softly to create sensual plays of texture and colour. Asymmetric gathers and pleats are found throughout the piece, disrupting the stripe pattern while enhancing the transparent layer's drape. The ingenious use of soft layers was one of Lang's most characteristic signatures as he was being introduced to the fashion world at large.
While the simple construction and streamlined aesthetic of the dress could be conveniently described as 'minimalist', the piece boasts a certain dynamism that suggests the opposite. The clean silhouette of the dress is slightly form-fitting and the fabrics have a lot of stretch. Likewise, the narrow shoulderline and slim short sleeves create a flattering and surprisingly modern shape. The interior labels suggest that this piece was produced for the Japanese market.
Although this piece was manufactured twenty five years ago in very limited numbers, it remains in unworn archival condition. Either worn as a statement piece or shown on a fashion museum's display, it acts as a beautiful example of Helmut Lang's paradigm-shifting vision.