nyfw: opening ceremony, sweet like chocolate!

After revving up a storm at last season’s New York Fashion Week, with models driving onto the catwalk in Ferraris, Bentleys and Beemers, Opening Ceremony opted for intimacy this time round, with a smaller show (done twice) and choccy bars for the...

by Stuart Brumfitt
11 February 2014, 4:20pm

Opening Ceremony autumn/winter 14

Not that they were lacking another clever stunt: as the models stepped out, the white wall alongside the runway started gushing with chocolate. The confectionary was not the only nod to Belgium though - designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim's trip to Antwerp proved to be rich in research. The buildings, the port, the water, trade history and folklore they found there all informed the clothes. Menswear was graphic, spacey and modernist, its colour blocks made extra fresh contrasted against white. The women's looks started off similarly, before becoming purposefully floatier and messier with layered asymmetry. Colours, fabrics and prints worked across both. i-D caught up with Humberto to get his take on their collection.

Your chocolate wall caused a stir - people were even licking it afterwards.
Part of the idea of the show was to deal with all the different sensations from taste to smell to touch to visuals. We really wanted to heighten all the senses. We came off a show last season that was a lot bigger, and this season we wanted a more intimate experience, something more romantic, more of a personal take.

And the chocolate was inspired by a trip to Belgium?           
Yes, we took a trip to Antwerp and the whole collection was based on this trip and learning all the historical facts about Antwerp. Carol and I really nerded out about how important Antwerp was in the import-export trade business in Europe, and how influential it was in bringing goods into Europe early on. We're really curious people. We're really into history and we're a lot nerdier than cool.

The fingerprints looked great all blown up. Each season you come up with strong print ideas - do you think that's your biggest signature?
We're really about telling a story and for me a print really brings a signature to each season. As I design collections, I always think about looking back 20 years from now and I want things to signify certain collections. As children and teenagers, you always remember certain things that signify certain periods of your life and we want there to be those signatures on everything we work on.

You did the same show twice - why was that?
We wanted it to be a much smaller show, we wanted people to be able to talk to each other, we wanted people to be able to eat the chocolate. We didn't want this vast space where people felt disconnected. And we wanted them to feel really close to the clothing, close to the models.

At your show - and lots of other New York shows - men's and women's are shown together. Do you think that works?
I think it depends. We decided this season to show the men's and women's together - it's not a must for us. We decide collection by collection. This is the first time we've really highlighted our men's collection, which we're really excited about. The men's was about seeing the city looking up, whereas the women's was really about looking at the water and down at the ground.

You did some asymmetric looks - is that tricky to tackle in a fresh way?
Actually, all those asymmetrcial pieces you can also wear symmetrical. It depends how you push your body through the clothing. The idea was about this transformative quality. We pushed the asymmetry in the show because we wanted to show the flow of water, the flow of chocolate. It was all about movement. But if you see the pieces in the showroom, you can wear them symmetrical.

You have the Kenzo show in Paris soon too. You must be so busy!
That's already done. Carol and I are very good about working ahead of schedule. We're very organised. It's working out really well. Kenzo has taken off and Opening Ceremony has a similar momentum, but they're separate stories and we're building them in different ways.

Tell us about the after-party. You're renowned for throwing one of the best ones in New York.
We had a secret after-party that was really friends and family. It was Opening Ceremony and Hood By Air to celebrate the day for us. We're very big on celebrating our friends and their talent. We were one of the very first retailers carrying Hood By Air, so it was good to celebrate with them.

Joe Jonas was at your show - he's really launching himself this NYFW.
It's funny because he's been shopping at Opening Ceremony since he was a teenager. He's always in our LA store. It's really fun to see him come out, as well as Kelly Rowland. They're really good friends of Opening Ceremony.

Kelly looked killer.
She looked incredible. We're huge fans of her. She wore spring/summer collection. And Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia came to the show, and we're obsessed with her. We were super excited.



Text Stuart Brumfitt

Opening Ceremony
New York Fashion Week
Humberto Leon
Carol Lim
autumn/winter 14
stuart brumfitt
xiao wen ju
humberto leon and carol lim