FASHION & STYLE | 11/07/2017 | MATT MCMUNN
SPRING / SUMMER '18
Paul Helbers is rapidly building momentum as a go-to designer for a modern and inspired spin on classic wardrobe pieces. The Paris-based designer, who worked at Martin Margiela and Louis Vuitton, looked to 18th-century paintings for inspiration, and the outcome has been consistently intriguing to watch unfold onto the catwalks.
Paul Helbers’ spring proposition was built around a particular color, called “Payne’s gray” after an 18th-century water colorist, which refracts the light into multiple shades depending on perspective. As such, he rendered a dark, moody ambiance dominated by smoky shades but with grayish hues of blue and khaki, and contrasts of chalk. Subtly mixing formal, casual and sportswear references to give an overall effect he described as “worn-in luxury,” Helbers’ premise was framed by comfortable forms and high-end details.
The overall philosophy is casual, yet still ultimately refined. Knitted cricket sweaters with generous V-necks will feel slightly more textured than one might expect but are still luxurious. Round neck T-shirts have patched-on embroideries and are over-dyed in earthy shades of prune and scorched soil.
Each season Helbers presents a men’s wardrobe characterized by a strong contrast between different authentic menswear styles. Influenced by a historical sense of dressing found in images from the past his main focus is transforming garments in such way to bring out its origin and history. They say, "We don’t want the pieces to loose their roots and we re-study them with subtle ideas to give them a new edge. With the help of our carefully selected Italian ateliers, we try to make something familiar look extraordinary." The feeling is both timeless as thoroughly modern, rough yet refined, a twist of unpolished elegance.
Payne's grey is famed for being beloved by artists the world over. This is due to something called "atmospheric perspective". When you look at the background of a painting, for example, and the buildings fade into the distance, the further away things are the paler and bluer. The effect is to mimic one of light being refracted via dust and weather – thus showing distance - something which Payne's grey is especially adept at capturing. The point is this: the pigment of this particular shade is easily adjusted, either lighter or darker, thus colour and form are open to many interpretations.
The shades in the pieces above give a strong sense of Helbers diverse collection this season: Washed cotton mussola three-colour patched band-collar shirt. Stone-washed speckled cotton sweat jogging pants. Polished calfskin loafers with tubular soles. Giving a lighter seasonal feel to a usually understated, darker feel from his Autumn/ Winter design. The Basket stitch cashmere silk linen roll-neck sweater, over a washed Egyptian cotton poplin tunic shirt is another specifically interesting take on a classic look.
Explore further at Helbers