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Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s incredible friendships have delivered some of the most inspiring collaborative fashion presentations, films and campaigns of the last decade. So it’s fitting that for the brand’s 15th anniversary, the duo are celebrating those very relationships with Changers: A Dance Story.
Longtime collaborator Spike Jonze wrote and directed the choreographed piece, which stars Alice Through the Looking Glass actress Mia Wasikowska and Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfield as a fashionable couple “navigating the hazards of monogamy,” according to show notes. With the help of another of Opening Ceremony’s favorite collaborators choreographer Ryan Heffington (who worked on the Kenzo World perfume ad), Wasikowska and Stanfield express both their romantic and personal evolutions through dance and, of course, clothing, pulled straight from the see-now, buy-now pre-spring 2018 collection.
The intimate space inside New York’s famed La MaMa Theatre — whose stage has been graced by greats like Sam Shepard, Philip Glass, David and Amy Sedaris and Diane Lane — allowed showgoers to appreciate the subtlety in Stanfield and Wasikowska’s performances, from their expressive facial expressions, which matched their at-times erratic though always entertaining movement to the soundtrack (which included LCD Soundsystem, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and David Byrne), to the glistening of Stanfield’s eyes during the show’s darker moments.
“You don’t hear them speaking, but their expression is very, very specific,” noted Lim of the acting. As for the “changers,” it’s Wasikowska’s character that undergoes the most drastic evolution, one which is told from her transition from a preppy plaid dress and loafers to a black crop-top paired with a chartreuse pleated miniskirt and matching sock-like boots to a pale pink power suit.
“The whole collection is based on sisterhood,” said Lim. “We’re really big fans of female empowerment, obviously, and all the different strong women in general.” The designer added that the concept of a sorority was where the collection was born, explaining, “In some of the prints, you can see sort of what we call the sorority pattern — with the charms and emblems which mean different things to different women.” A long sleeve knee-length dress worn by dancer Lauren Yalango-Grant featured one such floral pattern that was reminiscent at once of an impressionist painting and a Lily Pulitzer dress. (Or perhaps that’s just the view of one former sorority girl projecting — who’s to say?)
The focus on just one specific relationship in the brand’s storytelling portrays a narrowing in focus from just one year ago, when Lim and Leon invited a swath of Hollywood pals, including Rashida Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, to encourage audience members and shoppers alike to cast their vote. Like several other designers this season, the brand honed in on the positive things in their lives — their own intimate relationships, as the Playbill/lookbook featured portraits by Brigitte Lacombe of the various couples that make up the members of Opening Ceremony’s family, including Leon and Lim’s own partners.
The opening night brought the designers’ close Hollywood friends — many of whom have themselves played a role in the pair’s projects at some time or another, including Courtney Love, Alia Shawkat, Kim Gordon, Jonah Hill, Aziz Ansari and Tinashe — to the front row.
Tickets to the show, staged at the East Village’s La MaMa Theatre, are available for $15. All proceeds will be donated to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
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