Of course, if the Pendleton and Johnson collaborations are unlikely because they exist outside fashion’s expected arena of cool, the store’s venture with downtown artist and fashion lover Terence Koh is the exact opposite. Known for his meteoric rise and the use of materials such as semen and Chanel lipstick, Koh, a longtime friend of Leon and Lim’s, agreed to do a small run of T-shirts and shirtdresses covered in faux pearls. Koh says he’s a fan of Opening Ceremony “because it’s like going into a casual shop owned by your family and friends.”
That is, if your family and friends include, say, director Spike Jonze, now also part of the OC fold. Jonze’s film Where the Wild Things Are, based on the children’s book by Maurice Sendak, is set for an October release. After buying what he describes as an Empire Strikes Back jacket at Opening Ceremony a few years ago and subsequently meeting Leon, he approached the duo about a way to make good use of his movie’s big Warner Bros. budget. “Instead of just putting [money] in fast food and all that stuff, we want to do [projects] with people we’re really excited about, who can do quality things that won’t end up in the recycling bin in a month,” says Jonze. After seeing a rough cut of the film, Leon and Lim came up with the idea of faux furs based on each of the monsters, and a line of clawlike jewelry by Pamela Love. “Humberto sent me the designs and I was like, ‘Okay, cool,’” says Jonze.
As exciting as the celeb tie-ins are, Opening Ceremony is not known only for other designers’ clothes. The store has extensive men’s, women’s and accessories wholesale collections designed by none other than Leon and Lim. “Carol and I came up with the budget, and we always wanted to spend it on the really fun things,” says Leon. “But we realized as we tried everything on that a lot of fun things equal really crazy outfits. So we thought, We’ve got to make some basics.” Those basics follow a downtown, slightly hipster sensibility (read: quirky, maybe even a little ugly) and sit at contemporary price points. Barneys New York, Colette and London’s Dover Street Market have carried the Opening Ceremony collection for years, while Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman have jumped on board within the past two seasons. Does such exposure risk diluting Opening Ceremony’s cool currency? Leon and Lim don’t think so. “It’s interesting because we have as much of a downtown customer as an uptown customer,” says Leon. “We have a Jersey customer.”