Helmut Lang’s Bra Purse is Now a Bra Purse Sculpture
Artist Rose Salane repurposes pieces from Shayne Oliver’s debut Helmut Lang collection into found-object sculptures, on view at the label’s New York and Los Angeles stores.
Courtesy of Helmut Lang.
I was very, very excited to see what Shayne Oliver would do during his gig as designer-in-residence at Helmut Lang. The founder of Hood By Air, who once convinced me of the eternal relevance of dentists’ cheek retractors, Oliver’s collection was the first under Isabella Burley, Helmut Lang’s first editor-in-residence. Since decamping to a quiet life in bucolic East Hampton in 2005, the currency of Lang's namesake label has ebbed—though the influence of his work today seems more evident than ever, on designers from Raf Simons to Kanye West. This April, Burley told Vogue that “the intention is to celebrate those great archival pieces, reignite the conversation, and introduce Helmut Lang to a new generation of kids so that they can respond to the legacy in their own way.” Oliver, as designer-in-residence, oversees the runway collection, and his cerebral streetwise aesthetic seemed like it would be a clever update.
And Oliver’s debut SS18 show delivered, emphasizing the label’s fetishistic and bizarre undertones with black leather granny bras, elongated like rabbit ears; stringy asymmetrical tops; a rolled-up newspaper clutch; and a royal blue harness, necktie dangling from its O-ring fastening.
Now, a handful of pieces from the collection are getting a second life: they’ve been repurposed as sculptures by artist Rose Salane and are on view at Helmut Lang stores in New York and Los Angeles. A graduate of Cooper Union, Salane’s work presents found objects, especially generic clothing items, in states of mutated decay. They’re contorted, swollen and bound, scraped apart at the seams.
Her repurposed Helmut Lang sculptures include the leather bra hanging from lopsided rolls of fabric stacked in a T-shaped frame, a white heel and the newspaper bag on a plinth wrapped in a nubby, threadbare towel dirty with footprints. The pieces are, by design, a bit beaten up, but they seem ancient, with the strange dignity of housewares presented as archeological artifacts. That Oliver’s pieces lend themselves so well to sculpture is a testament to his take on Helmut Lang, drawing out the unorthodoxy in his stripped-down minimalism. Salane doesn’t necessarily exalt the clothes as luxury items, but in the age of brand-artist crossovers, that’s refreshing.