You couldn’t find a more appropriately named store than Opening Ceremony, which is opening this week in the centre of London, just in time for the 2012 Olympics. And the US company Opening Ceremony touched down with days to spare in Convent Garden, where it will be housed temporarily before it moves to its official premises, a mere two doors down the road. Opening Ceremony was founded in 2002 by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim who said at the opening, “The idea of pop ups feels really celebratory: it’s special to enter London with a really curated point of view – it’s about the merchandise, not the space itself.” For those fashionistas who are already aware of Opening Ceremony, you will be no doubt be looking out for limited edition British pieces, and hard to access stock from the US. Opening Ceremony has a history of supporting up and coming new designers, before they become household names; think of Alexander Wang, Gareth Pugh and Richard Nicoll, to name a few.
Opening Ceremony now feature exciting new designers, including ones from London, including London menswear Christopher Shannon, Shaun Samson and Lou Dalton as well as Fashion’s East’s Marques Almeida and Maarten van der Horst amongst the womenswear. Leon adds, “The exciting thing about Opening Ceremony opening here is that people will first encounter a lot of the brands here. There’s actually a lot here here that people won’t have seen before.” He is not wrong, the brands in Opening Ceremony are diverse as they are many, with collaborations from Adidas sitting next to 80’s archetypical prints from Reyn Spooner, a collection by Chloe Sevigny to House of Holland and even a bookshop watched over by Claire de Rouen. Leon wants everyone to come and take a look. He says, “We want the store to be welcoming and democratic, so you’ll see things from £2 to £2,000. There’s a lot of stuff. The more you look around, the more you’ll see.”
So how do the pair from Opening Ceremony decide what products should sit in their stores? “We took a trip to Hong Kong,” Lim recalls, “When you travel, you just go and discover. That’s what we wanted to bring back.” And this is what inspried them into a new buying policy – each year, Lim and Leon travel to a different country and whatever brands or young designers that Lim and Leon love, they then stock a mixture whatever brands they find there. So far their travels have taken them to the UK, Sweden, Japan and Germany. Next on their list is Argentina. Leon says, “In our mind what we do is a mini competition between abroad and home. The only other thing we could think of that does that is the Olympics.” Serendipitous then that their pop up shop is popping up this week, in light of the London Olympics and their recent collaboration with Adidas? Leon answers, “We approached the collaboration in a very nerdy way. We said ‘we’re working with a sports company, we’re going to celebrate sports’. The first collection is swimwear because Carol was on the swim team.”
Opening Ceremony have a regular gig with Chloe Sevigny, who Leon describes as ‘the biggest fashion muse out there’, and now that they are so famous, they do not have to court brands anymore, brands approach them all the time. They know how to say no however. “We won’t do it unless it’s meaningful for us,” says Leon. “It could be as cool as Chloe or as nerdy as the Muppets. Somehow in our minds, they all make sense.” Lim and Leon are now also Creative Directors of French brand Kenzo, and the brand has grown in success since they have been in charge. They have brought a whole new new generation to the brand with cute cropped sweatshirts and a playful dressing appeal. “We have a similar style of working to Kenzo so that made it an easy transition,” says Lim, who is actually wearing a Kenzo scarf. “The approaches are similar and the philosophy is shared but each brand has a very specific point of view.”
Opening Ceremony have a pop up shop this week, perhaps next year they’ll have the world!