Art Timo Helgert’s escapism for REDValentino’s Spring 2021 collection

Timo Helgert’s escapism for REDValentino’s Spring 2021 collection

Giulia Pacciardi

Romantic and elegant, daring and rebellious.
To share the spirit of the Spring 2021 collection, the Roman maison REDValentino entrusted German artist Timo Helgert.
He’s known for his virtual and escapist installations.
In his digital lookbook, the garments are inserted into a dialogue between nature that has taken over its space and a city that no longer runs quickly. A new ideal of beauty is created between the desire for freedom and to escape, and a new everyday life that blends with dreams. And it’s perfectly expressed by the maison’s clothing and accessories.

To understand more about Timo’s vision and how his collaboration with REDValentino began, we asked him to tell us more.

How did you become immersed in the digital world? What were the key moments in your career that led you to collaborate with big brands in the luxury, fashion and technology sectors?

I started at a very early age and it’s always been a part of my life. My father bought a very large used computer when I was just a little kid. It was one of those giant computers that made beeping sounds and ran the first version of Windows. So while other kids were drawing and playing outside, I always played on the machine to discover new tools. My father was a programmer and actually even wrote some programs for me so I could practice my English vocabulary using the computer. It must have been around the year 2000. The next key moment was during my teenage years when the technology got better.

Instead of buying a PC, my father and I actually went out to build our own. We purchased all the parts. Back then it was way more complicated than now so everything had funny colors and looked strange. However, it taught me about how the system works and that you can craft your own tools. At that time, I discovered editing software and also had a big passion for video equipment – but also for sound. I made short films, edited them with visual effects and uploaded them to the beginnings of YouTube, where they reached quite a bit of views. Some of the kids in my class discovered the channel and secretly told me, others thought I was strange and bullied me. Fast forward many years, this technical approach and love to the digital steadily evolved and my natural progression was to collaborate with different agencies and clients on their projects. I never reached out to a client, but since then I always got approached.
To summarize it quickly, my path led me from Visual Effects to Motion Graphics, to the music industry, to art directing and now to luxury, fashion and technology. Personally, from experiencing all of this, I must say, that I love the luxury fashion industry the most because it’s full of inspiring people and leaders. Everyone is so open to the technical and new approach. It’s really a great fit and I truly feel fulfilled. The collaboration with REDValentino really is a representation of my passion.

Your “Return to Nature” series was made while many countries were in lockdown. At its core, there’s a blooming nature in places that have actually been uprooted.

Yes, the goal was to create something for all the people affected by the lockdown and harshmeasures. It is hard to see how friends and even family are affected by the lockdown. Many lost their jobs and it’s not easy to stay indoors when the outside world is so vibrant and colorful – especially during the spring. So the natural thought for me was to bring nature back to the people in a digital form by reforming places they know in a unique way.

Does your imagination reflect the desire to live with it while respecting it? Or is it the representation of a dystopian future in which nature takes back its spaces by any means?

The imagination and focus of my series are to showcase a world that is in balance with nature.
Where we don’t think in either white or black, city or nature. I think our words actually make it hard to think of everything as a whole that is connected because we give nature names like “park” which is a secluded space in a city to allow a little bit of “controlled” nature. So I wondered how a city would look where both sides are equally respected and fully blooming. It’s not one or the other. It’s the best of both – waiting for us, while we are in lockdown.

For REDValentino, you created digital artworks that are the background for the Spring 2021 collection. Why do you think the brand has decided to go in the direction of worlds that don’t exist?

They are worlds that don’t exist, but they are deeply familiar with our everyday lives. When I think of REDValentino, I think of a fine luxury way of combining elements from different cultures and centuries. By finding the best of both and uniting it. Since my series attempted to do something similar, but with spaces, I think it was a great fit as a space for the REDValentino collection.

What kind of experience did you want to give those who will browse the lookbook of the collection? Which elements or concepts did you draw inspiration from to create it?

I hope that those who will browse the lookbook can see the visual as a whole, without being influenced by pre-existing labels in our heads. What does “urban” mean? I hope that everyone approaches the visual like a piece of art with curiosity and wonder, and explores the connection between everything from a bird’s eye view.

Due to the health emergency, we’ve seen how different brands have decided to resort to augmented reality. Do you think this combination will continue to exist even when we return to normalcy? Or was it a temporary solution?

Personally, I am a huge promoter of Augmented Reality and it often crosses my mind. If you think about our current state of technology, we use small devices as “windows” to look into a digital world “the internet” which is pretty separated from our real world. Because of this, people often lose sight of reality while they are bent over, staring into their screens. With AR, we finally have a tool to combine both spaces, and AR becomes the bridge between both. Similar to my environments and to how REDValentino can romantically combine different cultures and centuries, AR can combine the magical with our real world so we can have richer experiences. Therefore, I think especially for fashion, a very creative industry, this technology will be game-changing. And actually, I think that brands such as REDValentino are leaders in using this technology, showing other brands and sectors what is possible.

In this period we have seen how various issues related to human rights, mental health, and climate change have become the focus of important conversations involving different realities. Do you believe that art can play a role in these debates? As an artist, do you feel a responsibility towards these social issues?

Yes, I agree. Every century has its problems and we’re currently facing a lot of new challenges. In my opinion, if you think about art, it’s actually so much more than the word entitles. If you take escapism, for example. It’s an amazing way for many of us to relax and pause from stressful situations. I think this is very needed to have space and to reflect. It gives us power and optimism. We can use art to address climate change by showing humanity, which is very visual. What a beautiful world we could have if we worked together to solve it. So I think art can be very versatile. You can use it to tell stories or you can use it as a relief. My personal opinion about the future and current problems is: I try my best to solve problems with my talents and I hope to inspire anyone, even nonartists, to use their unique talents to help. Even one step at a time is a great step forward.

Pictures courtesy of REDValentino

Written by Giulia Pacciardi
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