Helmut Lang quit being a fashion designer in 2005. Now, because he is way smarter and more creative than just about anyone on the planet, he's an artist. The Wall Street Journal Magazine has a really interesting profile about his second act. Writer Julie Belcove got a look at his studio out at his East Hampton estate and her story touches on his close relationship with artist Louise Bourgeois, who passed away in 2010 and had a significant effect on Helmut's love and pursuit of art. Perhaps her biggest influence: her use of old clothing remnants and fabric as part of a cathartic exercise. You can see where this is going. As Lang guides Belcove through his estate:
"Lang resists lingering—he doesn’t like anyone seeing works in progress—and quickly ushers me down a flight of paint-splattered stairs to a second room, where some 200 tall, thin poles lean against the walls. From a distance they resemble a forest of birch trees. Most are blackish or whitish, while some are bright red, blue or yellow. Up close, their mottled surfaces reveal themselves to be resin and pigment mixed with bits of colorful yet indecipherable textures—in truth, shredded remnants of Lang’s clothing designs."
Bourgeois' influence became clearer when a fire in 2010 damaged a large portion of his archive in SoHo. Lang took the surviving 6,000-8,000 pieces and tossed them in an industrial shredder. Now, they're repurposed in his artwork. He combined the fabric remnants with resin and pigment before placing them in aluminum tube out in the sun. The result is a sort of fossilized fabric pillar. It's sad to see a huge archive of one of the best modern fashion designers gone in a flash and I'm sure Lang devotees might be crying their eyes out reading this. But to them I say, get the fuck over it, you big babies. If you're in New York and would like to see the exhibit, Lang is showing his work at Sperone Westwater Gallery from January 8th to February 21st.