Their vibe is super chill - these two longtime friends from California, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon founded Opening Ceremony together fifteen years ago, back then and still today they are known as the “cool kids." They were in Boston to showcase their Spring 2018 collection with Saks Fifth Avenue. We met with the duo before the event and panel discussion with curator John Andress of the ICA Boston.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony at Saks Fifth Avenue Boston.
Boston Common: Welcome to Boston! You're here today with Saks Fifth Avenue to showcase your 2018 spring collection, can you share some of the inspiration for designing this season's pieces?
Humberto Leon: This collection we really wanted to build what we consider our dream sorority, but not like your typical sorority. Kind of like this idea of gathering all of our strongest and most aspirational women together. Carol and I talked a lot about the world we live in today and what that means, and if you’re familiar with what we do, our voice is very much represented in our work. We are in a time where we feel like women should unite and do some incredible things, so this collection is dedicated to that, thus we created this new sorority. Not the college sorority that you know, this other one that is about women banning together to make a difference.
Carol Lim: What’s interesting is that even our approach to how we design is around conversations and what’s interesting and important to us. We are not afraid to talk about what's happening in our lives and the current state of affairs.
One of the things that you as a brand do brilliantly, is bring attention to causes and social issues that are dear to your heart. What is one issue that you're focusing on now?
HL: There are a lot of them. We really are advocates in women’s choices and we've partnered with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in the past and really trying to initiate that. Also, in terms of gay rights, this is something that speaks dearly to us and what we believe in and we are children of immigrants, so there is a lot for us, it doesn’t necessarily feel like we are picking a side, we are just picking humanity. Our philosophy represents everybody that works within our company who we consider our family, it’s really about giving the people we work with a voice and being the two people who can use our platform to talk about things that matter.
During the design process, whether it be in the clothing or your drama-driven fashion shows, what is your favorite part of the creative process?
CL: There are different parts when it’s our favorite and I would say that sometimes seeing a piece, like an original come to life, where you explore this idea and it comes back, so that’s super exciting. Also the collection is one point of excitement and communication in the actual clothing, then we shoot the lookbook, it starts to have its own life, then the campaign, and then we do the show, which takes on a totally different form and each of those have their high points.
HL: One of the things we are most excited about is when Carol and I are in cabs, we nerd out when we see people on the street wearing our things. We love it to this level, real people wearing our clothes and walking around everyday life in something that we made! We never lose sight of how it all began with the store and the brand 15 years ago.
In a snapshot, tell us what we'll be seeing in your designs in the year 2025?
HL: Every year we have a refresh button; what’s the next stage of this thing we are working on. It's important to think that way because it coincides with the lifestyle that everyone is living now, where you want to think about what’s next, being too steady is not interesting. It's about disrupting and doing things differently, there are a lot of other categories that we haven’t touched upon yet, not only in fashion, clothing, bags, and shoes, but also in homeware, a restaurant, it could be a hotel. We’ve always said that the brand is really poised by the culture and with that a lot can come of it, so we have tried to lay the foundation for other things to happen.
CL: Whatever is happening in 2025, we’re going to be slightly to the left of it, so if that means people might be wearing modern color, we might be just only doing prints.