opening ceremony gets retro futuristic for fall/winter 16
Is there some sort of sci-fi fashion club that convenes on the UC Berkeley campus? The California college has produced a few notably chic futurists, including Patrik Ervell -- whose specific menswear language is versed in a techy but romantic modernism. Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy are also alumna. They've captivated us with magic, feminine visions of a brave new world (and on one occasion, taken an enviable trip to the Star Wars archive). Last night, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon decided they wanted in on their former classmates' sci-fi fun and showed an Opening Ceremony collection rooted in retro-futurism.
"Carol and I have been talking about all the sci-fi films we grew up loving, so we decided to actually contact Syd Mead who did a lot of drawings for Blade Runner and Tron and Alien," Leon said. The ever-curious duo interviewed the artist to develop their story, but found the clothing in his illustrations wasn't distant galaxy far-fetched. Mead not only did commissions for the cult films, he also drew cities for urban planning. "He said, 'When I draw people and clothing, it's about reality -- what my friends are wearing. When I draw a setting, it's about the future.' I think that really informed how we thought about this collection," explained Leon. "Yes, we're approaching the idea of the future, but we really wanted there to be a reality in the clothing."
That clothing paid tribute to Mead not just in the incorporation of his illustrations on dresses and sweatshirts, but in his vision of the future as, in part, familiar. Lim and Leon didn't do much conceptual conjecturing; they showed what we're into right now. Slouchy off-the-shoulder knits, strong and straight silhouettes, denim (yes, jeans will probably still exist in 2100) and over-the-knee boots. The designers put a special focus on fabric development this season, which resulted in a shimmery series of knit jacquards. "We wanted this strong, feminine woman to feel really empowered," said Leon. "That's how people around us want to feel."
As it so often does, set design played a chiefly important role in communicating the collection's overarching thoughts. Pier 90 was filled with 60s-style silver inflatable spaceships and hovercrafts that ascended from a bright orange carpet as the house lights dimmed. The objects were playful, but their kitsch and volume was purposeful. "In classic sci-fi film sets, there was this great idea about a lo-fi, hi-fi vibe," said Leon, and he's right. The films he's referencing were created without today's CG technology, sure, but they're also products of an era before sci-fi films became major, big budget blockbusters drawing wide audiences. Before the first Star Wars iteration (its budget was a paltry $11 million) debuted in 1977, sci-fi was still considered niche and nerdy. "With the new Star Wars, J.J. Abrams talked about filming it in a way that felt like the old format," said Leon. "We didn't want to make things feel like we're super futuristic or robotic and crazy -- but going back to something authentic."
Text Emily Manning
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans