nyfw: opening ceremony takes the met for spring/summer 15

The best ideas are so simple you wonder why they haven’t been done before. As I sat in the audience of the Metropolitan Opera waiting for the Opening Ceremony womenswear show cum play, ‘100% Lost Cotton,’ to begin, I marvelled at the fact that no one...

Sep 10 2014, 11:45am

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony

The basics, for the social media averse: Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill wrote a 30-minute, one-act play featuring the Opening Ceremony spring/summer collection, starring John Cameron Mitchell (Humberto), Catherine Keener (Carol), Rashida Jones (Lisa Love), Bobby Cannavale (stylist Brian Molloy), Alia Shawkat (designer Dylan Kawahara), and Dree Hemingway, Elle Fanning, and Karlie Kloss as a trio of models. 

After Carol and Humberto collaborated with David Lynch on the Kenzo show, Spike told the pair that he wanted to do a show with them. He had the idea of writing a play with Jonah. As Humberto explained, "Opening Ceremony has always been known for storytelling, so we were really excited to have Spike tell this really intimate story. He's been around fashion for decades now, since early X-Girl fashion shows. As much of an outsider as he is, he's been privy to insider information."   

The emotional, and at times hilarious plot comprised a love triangle (between Humberto, his husband, and Brian), a crisis of doubt (Dree aka Bella), a coming-of-age (Elle aka Julie), and a rousing musical finale of Drake's 'Hold On, We're Going Home.' Taking place in the Opening Ceremony headquarters during the show preparations, the clothing collection was ever-present throughout the play. Models came in for fittings, and the female characters wore adorable OC outfits throughout - providing the audience with plenty of time to examine the 1991-inspired collection of bright, playful separates. As Carol said, the integration of the collection "was very seamless and natural. Because the characters were interacting with the models, it felt normal to have them wearing the collection!"

Although the pieces were the focus of a few jokes (one metal slit top was referred to as a mailbox), the staging presented the collection in a novel way. Dree rocked a covetable pink-and-black printed dress throughout, showing its ease throughout some pretty physical dance scenes. The playfulness of the play was reflected in the early Esprit and Benetton spirit of the clothing, with prints ranging from printed sunglass-ed faces to Escher-like repeated geometrics.

The cast was phenomenal, and it was touching to see humans feeling actual emotions on stage during fashion week, rather than giving classic Blue Steel attitude. After the curtain call, Spike's brother Sam Siegel - who contributed the musical score - asked Dree if she was crying, and the question felt totally normal. Carol and Humberto have a gift for creating a true family of collaborators, and this group was no different. Dree said, "Carol and Humberto were so involved. Carol just had a baby so she was there as much as possible without leaving her child alone and Humberto was there pretty much every day, which was incredible. Spike and Humberto are best friends . Me, Jonah, and Humberto, all met through Jason Schwartzman."

The humour was a key element, and a refreshing change from the seriousness of fashion with a capital F. As Dree explained, "It was very close to home. I'm in the acting business and the modeling industry and it was nice to break it down and make fun of ourselves." Carol, too, saw the power of the LOLZ: "I think the play is pretty amazing in that it takes you on this journey.  And that it there is humor in it... which is very us."

Yes, there was profanity, and some broad satire, but ultimately the show had a lot of heart. And although it was a story about fashion people, it was also kind of a story about everybody. As Humberto said, "When Spike and Jonah wrote this they felt it was a story everybody could relate to. They felt like they were telling a really human story." In the midst of a charged week of self-serious industry events, '100% Lost Cotton' was a welcome reminder of why we all love this creative, crazy business so much.



Text Rory Satran
Images courtesy Opening Ceremony