opening ceremony brings the most exciting mexican fashion to the u.s.
i-D talks to Cynthia Cervantes and Travis Gumbs about their photoshoot for the "Year of Mexico" kicking off at OC today.
Left: Roberto Sanchez Top and Pant, Varon Jewelry Bracelet. Right: Mypalma T-Shirt, NDA Belt, Turbo Leather Pants. Images courtesy of Opening Ceremony.
When Humberto Leon and Carol Lim first launched their now iconic store, Opening Ceremony, in 2002, the aim was simple — to showcase innovative fashion from around the world, just like the Olympics gave athletes a chance to show off. It’s to this premise that they’ve returned, starting today with Mexico. The pair have always combed the world for the latest fashions, and Mexico is somewhere they’ve returned to time and again. “We are so excited to celebrate Mexico as a country of focus at Opening Ceremony this year. We have always been fascinated by its cultures, food, arts, and design,” says Humberto. “Especially given the current political landscape, it seemed like perfect time to focus on and celebrate the beauty and diversity of this country. Providing a platform for young Mexican designers, artists, and artisans feels like the perfect way for us to do it authentically.”
For the next year, OC will give you access to new brands like Baby Angel Tees, Roberto Sanchez, and Sauna, as well as more established labels such as Barragan and Tuza. You’ll also be able to find hand-thrown homewares by Taiga Ceramica, locally-made cowboy boots sourced by Baby Angel Boots, exclusive bags by Agua D’Mar, and a trio of labels by the Hi-Bye collective, which runs one of the city’s most exciting stores.
There's a further social justice aspect to the Year of Mexico, as they're calling it — OC is partnering with Mexican non-profit, Fondo Semillas. Founded in 1990 in Mexico City, Fondo Semillas works closely with women-led grassroots groups with the common goal of improving the living conditions of local communities and promoting gender equality. It's the largest fund in Mexico dedicated to women’s causes, such as the fight against gender discrimination and violence, and the right for indigenous and rural women to own land.
To creative direct the launch campaign, Carol and Humberto tapped Cynthia Cervantes and Travis Gumbs, aka, the couple behind Maroon World, who are transplants from New York to Mexico City. The duo wanted to shoot the images in historic spots in Mexico such as the park of Chapultepec, and the National Museum of Anthropology, reflecting the convergence of ancient and modern cultures that make the country so great.
Who did you want OC to meet when you learned about their focus on Mexico?
Cynthia Cervantes: The Opening Ceremony team came to Mexico and definitely hit the ground, meeting with people here. We definitely pointed them in a few directions! Just being here in Mexico, the creative community is pretty tight-knit, and everybody is doing something amazing. There are two shops here specifically, one is HI-BYE, and one is Tuza. Both of those shops really look at trying to put Mexican designers on the map, people like NDA by my friend Nayeli, or Roberto Sanchez. Really amazing designers are showcased at both places. So for us it was easy to tell them to check these people out, designers without huge studios, who are making really interesting things.
What prompted your move to Mexico City?
Travis Gumbs: At first we were coming for the winter, but what really sparked it was getting married in Mexico in July. When we came back to New York, we knew we had to go back. So we packed up our apartment and did it! Two weeks into it, we knew it was where we wanted to stay, and this is our home now.
How would you describe the creative scene there?
CC: I think creatively, there is space here. And I mean that in so many different ways... Here, time is a little more free. Within that you have the space to create, and everyone you meet in the creative community here is doing the things they want to do. And people here are so open to collaborating. That’s not to say its a dreamland playground, everyone here is working really hard. And in that way, it’s in fact similar to New York, because everyone is hustling. But there’s just a sense of freedom here, which we don’t feel in New York anymore.
Tell us about the shoot — why did you want to take photographs in Chapultepec.
CC: One of the things we love about being here is that so many stereotypes about Mexico are broken on a daily basis. What people think Mexicans are like, or what they look like. For us, Chapultepec park encapsulates the many different facets of Mexican life. And it’s this historical wealth of knowledge in the park.
There’s so many different parts of the park that speak to not only the history of Mexico, but where modern day Mexico is. You have the modern day mercado, but also the sculpture Diego Rivera worked on. So it just brings together all the things we love about the city.
We love walking there and seeing the families, and seeing people engaging with the street vendors. When’s the last time you bought something from a street vendor in New York? In our daily routine we have three different vendors we go to every day.
Which is your favorite?
CC: There’s one 15 minutes away which always has a line, but which has our favorite burritos, and then there’s our local vegan tacos, and somewhere we always get our juice from. We wanted to capture some of that.
You gave the cast of the shoot this incredible Mexican-inspired hair, could you tell us about that?
CC: I have these ancient drawings of hairstyles of Indigenous people throughout Mexico, which I go back to over and over because they’re so fascinating. We pulled a lot of our looks from these drawings.
The slender braids are particularly engaging.
CC: For that shot, we had traversed the park for a few days, picking out exactly where we wanted to shoot, and we knew the look we wanted in that area. We wanted her to feel very regal and decidedly Mexican.
What are you super excited about outside of this project?
TG: We really feel like we’ve just scratched the surface of Mexico. There are endless possibilities for things to do here.
CC: We just had a show two weeks ago!
TG: A body of work we’ve been working on for a long time, portraits of pregnant women, which is on show now. And we’re currently working on the next issue of our magazine.
CC: And we’re pregnant now, so that’s our latest collaboration!
Creative/Art Direction Maroon World
Photography Travis Gumbs
Styling Cynthia Cervantes Gumbs
Hair Mariana Palacios
Makeup Ana Gutiérrez de Velazco
Nails Zai Vega
Casting Güerxs Agency
Production: Monse Castera Obregon