1997 Virgin Wool Funnel Neck Chesterfield Coat
IT 38: Best for a Women's UK 6/US 4 or a UK 8/US 6.
Helmut Lang tailored high-neck coat from A/W 1997-1998. In excellent used condition with minor signs of wear on the lining. Made in Italy.
A/W 1997 marked a turning point for Helmut Lang. Up to that point, his collections were largely inspired by clubwear and made their mark through unconventional fabrics and subversive details. This time, the designer opted for a more controlled presentation that highlighted the mass appeal of his designs. Through the use of subdued colours, streamlined finishes and effortless shapes Lang showed that he was capable of creating timeless classics that could be worn for years to come. The experimentation that characterises his work was still there, however Lang's typical gestures had become more simple, refined and universal. Amy M. Spindler writes:
'Helmut Lang's instincts have defined the 1990's, so all the designers who have been copying him for so long should take a close look at the way he staged his show this season. Instead of a flashy presentation, there was a modest workroom created in an uncrowded gallery. [...] The show opened with funnel-neck jackets in creamy colors, layered over shirts or trousers of butter, white, taupe and tan. [...] Mr. Lang presented a quiet storm, taking ideas from past seasons and infusing them with elegance and sophistication: the banded coat, the sash, the cummerbund, the froth of tulle starkly cut, elastic bands gripping dresses like escaped pieces of lingerie. [...] [Ann Demeulemeester and] Mr. Lang will someday jointly be considered the archetypes of this decade.'
In our view, this coat captures the collection's minimalist aesthetic in its most effective. One of the runway presentation's most prominent designs, it appeared in several runway looks. The design is an adaptation of Lang's classic Chesterfield coat however, instead of classic notch lapels, a high funnel collar elegantly envelops the neck.
The coat's front features a concealed button closure and flap pockets on the waist. Subtle diagonal darts shape the sides of the torso and add simple detail to the refined design. The back is finished with a single vent and the sleeves have four buttons. The piece is crafted from a 100% virgin wool cloth with a fleecy texture and an easy yet substantial drape. The fabric's weight complements the coat's fitted cut, with flattering narrow shoulders, high armholes and a straight body.
The quality of this piece is excellent with considerable attention to detail. For example, the concealed button placket's underside has a sharp 'slit' shape. Its technically challenging construction is precisely executed and separately lined. The back vent secures with a button. The coat's interior is fully lined in silver viscose sateen that feels very pleasant against the skin. There are two interior pockets, the left of which is slit-shaped and ergonomically placed sideways for easier access. It should also be noted that the darted construction of the shell is echoed in the panels of the lining, achieving a better fit with less fabric excess.
Understanding Helmut Lang's work often requires deconstructing contemporary fashion's perception of 'normal'. Through groundbreaking designs like this piece, Helmut Lang gave a refined and modern air to classic tailoring, bringing it back to the forefront for other designers and high street retailers to imitate. This process of extensive appropriation has caused many of Lang's early successes to become so embraced by the industry that they are now completely normalised, and thus public property. Still, the clean lines and precise fit of this piece are unmistakably Lang and make for a true classic that will be worn for years to come.