Shayne Oliver‘s triumphant collaboration with Helmut Lang saw the New York-based designer return from a self-imposed exile since Hood By Air announced a temporary hiatus. Oliver discusses his work with Lang, which was one of New York Fashion Week’s biggest highlights, in a new interview with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the culture writer and artistic director of London’s Serpentine Galleries.
In addition to detailing his work on the collection itself, the conversation between the two chronicles their separate experiences of working with Lang, the nature of collaboration and how Oliver’s Hood By Air label is a “community-based idea.”
You can read some key excerpts from the conversation between Oliver and Obrist below, and check out our own interview with the designer about how he is trying to save New York Fashion Week.
On the Helmut Lang collaboration:
Hans-Ulrich Obrist: Can you tell me more about this collaboration, Helmut Lang seen by Shayne Oliver? I remember when I spoke to him, it must have been the mid-‘90s, he told me about the energy he got from history and the past. In this case, Helmut Lang is the past and you’re building upon that. But you’ve got also your own past and energy, so I was wondering how these connect and how you’re approaching this project.
Shayne Oliver: It was very weird, because I had been screaming that I wanted to work with Helmut Lang for so long, and everyone was turning a deaf ear on me. Then all of sudden, when I left it alone and gave up on it, I got a call from Isabella [Burley] who had just been appointed new Editor-in-Residence here.
To be honest, it was very hard at first, because obviously there is such a vast body of work that needs to be taken into consideration. I started by taking out my favorite pieces and seeing if they were even available physically in the archive, which a lot of them weren’t. So I began to incorporate designs from HBA that never made it into the commercial world. And by merging these things that may have been, these neglected or underappreciated things, I started to create the collection.
On Hood By Air:
Hans-Ulrich Obrist: There is also the question of the evolution of your factory. I think it’s interesting how often, when an enterprise becomes successful, it brings people in as well as out, moving on to their next personal adventure. I mean, Alejandro Ghersi was your intern; I suppose there are a lot of exciting interns there now. How does it work?
Shayne Oliver: Hood by Air is a community-based idea, and Shayne Oliver is just the founder of that. Right now, it’s moving more into a place where, as opposed to having interns, I want to be more of a mentor. And I don’t know if that means we’re even going to have a physical space, you know? I feel like it’s a waste of time. I think that people get comfortable in a space, and they almost become victims of the space, when really, the people are the fortress, the people are the institution. And I think it’s great, because now we get to pick and choose—the kids and talents come to us and we’re able to nurture them. First I need to find a home, though, because I’ve been traveling so much and I haven’t been able to get a place! Once I do that, I can sort of balance the personal part of myself and the mentor part.
In other KALEIDOSCOPE news, the publication has recently partnered with Slam Jam and Carhartt WIP on a new exhibition space in Milan.