Mark Howard Thomas quits Helmut Lang
Mark Howard Thomas has quit Helmut Lang, barely two years after being appointed creative director of menswear for the famous fashion house.
He leaves one month after presenting a critically acclaimed runway show for Lang during New York Fashion Week this past September. A blend of strict tailoring, subversive fabrics and downtown cool, presented inside a Soho gallery.
As he did when he joined Lang, Thomas posted a self-portrait of himself on Instagram and Facebook announcing his departure from the New York-based fashion label. Showing a photo of him at Orly Airport with a chariot laden with bags, reading “MHT has moved back to Paris.”
Reached by FashionNetwork.com, Thomas confirmed he had left Helmut Lang and would be starting a new role in Paris, but declined to provide more details.
During his Manhattan tenure, Thomas focused on re-establishing the codes of Lang at the maison, injecting much needed authenticity into the marque, by playing with Lang’s signature 19th century Viennese gentleman’s redingote, working with Helmut’s traditional moleskin and re-using the house's classic lettering.
His departure raises questions about the latest change of direction at Helmut Lang, which seemed to be finally gaining fresh traction under Thomas, after a series of zig zags, including naming occasional editors-in-residence for the brand, and inviting Hood By Air designer Shayne Oliver to create a one-off collection.
At Lang, Mark Howard Thomas worked alongside Thomas Cawson, the creator of the brand’s jeans division. The house’s September show included designs by both creators.
A spokesperson for the house did not return a request for comment on Helmut Lang’s future plans.
Thomas, 43, joined Helmut Lang from Joseph, where he created a series of dynamic collections for that London-based house. While at Lang, Thomas reported to Lang’s CEO, New York fashion investor Andrew Rosen, who oversaw the acquisition of Helmut Lang a decade ago. Thomas’ debut collection for Lang was Fall 2018, presented at the New York men’s season.
Thomas, who boasts a master’s degree from Central Saint Martins, began his career in Milan with Neil Barrett, before subsequently joining Givenchy, under Riccardo Tisci, in Paris; and then moving to become the menswear director of Joseph in London.
Lang founded his fashion business in 1977 in Vienna; by 1986 he was staging runway shows in Paris to instant critical success, his clothes admired for their sharp tailoring and insurrectionary use of high-tech materials. By the late '90s he had moved to New York, and revolutionized the international fashion calendar by holding his shows before the European seasons, forcing fellow American designers to follow his example. A chronology that remains today.
Lang sold control of his business to the Prada Group in 1999, but after falling out with the Italian clan leader Patrizio Bertelli he quit his house in 2004. Two years later Link Theory Holdings bought the Lang fashion business and installed Michael and Nicole Colovos as joint designer directors, positions they held for eight years. Lang has no longer any involvement and lives and works as an artist on Long Island.
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