KCIDigital Archives

The KCI Digital Archives on the KCI website presents image and text information for the objects in the collection, arranged in chronological order.

Jacket, Top, and Trousers

© The Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

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Jacket, Top, and Trousers

Spring/Summer 2004

Helmut Lang
Helmut Lang
Silver patent leather jacket trimmed with film and bottle caps; brown synthetic knit tank top; black synthetic poplin trousers.
Credit Line
Gift of Helmut Lang
Inventory Number(s)
AC12288 2010-11-75AI

Central to this look is the double-breasted jacket with a diagonal zip, inspired by the biker’s jacket. The gleaming jacket is made of silver patent leather, but the pieces of blue and pink film, randomly applied onto sections of the sleeves and body of the jacket, transforms the garment into something wrinkled and rough to the feel. 68 flattened crown caps decorate the middle of the left side of the jacket, with some rusted and others painted, while they have been sewn onto the jacket so that some of the caps are facing up, while others are facing down. There is no consistency in the way these bottle caps have been sewn onto the jacket, with the thread visible on some caps, but not on others. These decorations appear as examples of poor handiwork and seem to be in direct contrast to the look of the brightly shining, cool, stylish, and flamboyant jacket.
The biker’s jacket worn by motorbike riders has been popular as streetwear amongst young people since the 1950s. The biker’s jacket was also a favorite of the openly anti-establishment punks during the late 1970s, and this image of the biker’s jacket soon became widespread. The rough workmanship of this garment appears to resonate with the punks’ “DIY (do it yourself)” spirit in which familiar and low-cost materials such as safety pins and studs, tin badges, and plastic bags were used to customize their clothing. The combination of patent leather emanating a futuristic glow with an amateurish hand-made look doesn’t fit into a facile binarism and can arguably be described as a design typical of Lang who favored juxtaposing, in a single garment, elements that have traditionally been viewed as conflicting.