One of the challenges of fall/winter fashion weeks is that frequently the styles we see are hardly appropriate for the season. In fact, this time last year I frequently found myself thinking that the pieces on the runway were more appropriate for the upcoming spring season than autumn. This year, though, it is as though designers had some advance warning as to just how severe the weather was going to be and planned appropriately.

Following that trend, Helmut Lang comes on strong with a fall/winter collection that is as solid as any we’ve seen, not only in terms of outwear, but daywear that is sturdy enough to endure a winter with temperatures as frigid as those we are currently experiencing.

Fundamental to this line are a group of sweaters that are over-sized, high-necked, and attractive. Knobby knits with spacious cowl necks and crocheted layers that fold one over the other are the kind of wardrobe pieces that last forever. There’s nothing here that’s unseasonably short or drafty if there’s a bit of a breeze. These are sweaters that can stand up to a long walk across campus or a long hike from the parking garage.

Another strong point in this line is the use of color. There’s no modesty here, no pastels, no dark, muted shades. Instead, what we get from the very beginning are elements bathed in a bright, vibrant red. The color is sufficiently strong in the slacks that start the show, or in the shoes and purses that accessorize several pieces. Lang’s most brilliant move, though, is a black and red print that looks like flowing lava. Models wearing the two looks in which the print appears came down the runway like balls of fire. These may well be the most popular pieces in the collection when it hits stores this fall.

This is a delightfully strong collection that, for once, takes winter seriously. Without question, anyone who actually made it to the late-afternoon show would have been happy to be wearing styles that were as warm as they are attractive. This could be a collection that puts some incredibly power behind the Helmut Lang label.


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