Opening Ceremony’s fashion shows have repeatedly recast the linear runway mold to deliver plays starring Elle Fanning, ballets choreographed by Justin Peck, and photo exhibits by Spike Jonze, to name a few from recent years. Last week, founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim added to their impressive oeuvre, reuniting with Jonze for an OC-styled performance called Changers: A Dance Story. The dance, which ran for the length of NYFW at East Village avant-garde temple La Mama, starred Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) as a young couple navigating their relationship – and who happen to have a closet full of Opening Ceremony’s latest collection.
Written and directed by Jonze and choreographed by Ryan Heffington, the piece rekindled the forces behind Margaret Qualley’s eye-popping routine in the trailer for Leon and Lim’s KENZOWORLD fragrance – upholding Opening Ceremony’s history of prioritizing art over product. “We tend to keep the fashion as the secondary part of what we do,” says Leon at the audience at a Q&A moderated by Natasha Lyonne following the final performance of Changers. “I think Carol and I feel like we’re more in the cultural world than fashion, and we’ve always tried to use Opening Ceremony for is as a platform for discovering culture.” Which was not to say that the dance lacked in costume changes; the piece, which follows the day-to-night romantic arc of Wasikowska and Stanfield, showcased everything from Opening Ceremony-branded sweats to millennial-pink pantsuits.
Even the audience itself reflected a unique combination of art and commerce: seats were offered exclusively to American Express cardholder’s as an Amex Platinum Card benefit. While Amex furnished “Platinum Pony” pre-show cocktails along with boho-inspired installations like personalized poems by the Typewriter Project, when it came to the dance, Lim says the creators had complete control. “There aren’t many partners out there who support visions like this,” she says. “[American Express] has been amazing creatively. They said, ‘This is what you guys do’ and they just helped us bring it to life.”