It's inevitable that I was going to add my show of excitement for Opening Ceremony setting up shop in London to the waves of jumping-up-and-down frission of anticipation that are currently traversing across the city. I'm not one to feign indifference or put on a cool and unaffected front. Therefore I'm just going to come right out with it. I had a strange dream last night where Humberto Leon and Carol Lim were showing me the shop and I promptly slipped down some Escher-esque stairs whilst looking at a limited edition toilet that Rodarte had designed. Scoff away. This is what happens when your brain is working in overdrive, wondering what Opening Ceremony has in store for us.
Fortunately the wait is over and thankfully there are no strange Escher stairs or designer loos. Opening Ceremony is finally upon us with their initial pop-up store on King Street and it will be followed up with a permanent location just down the road. The first question I had of course was why Covent Garden? Or more specifically, why the drag of Covent Garden that is crowded with tourists, freaky street performers and the dins of Mozart coming from the Piazza.
Whilst Carol and Humberto are used to hanging out East, in and around Shoreditch and Hackney, they felt that they still liked the idea of going into town for serious shopping. No arguments with that. Most Londoners will normally talk of going into "town" or "central" if shopping needs need to be escalated. Humberto said that Covent Garden was slightly "off" in so much that it isn't part of the normal Bond Street/Oxford Circus drag. In a way, Opening Ceremony's presence could well revive Covent Garden's "cool" factor. Back in the day, I'd traipse all along Long Acre and Floral Street thinking it was the best place in the world. That feeling is likely to return with Opening Ceremony's presence and it will be interesting to see whether other "fashion" or "concept" stores will follow in OC's footsteps and open up here. Chanel Beauty is also popping up next week in Covent Garden. Who knows what else.
There's much MUCH to be excited by the pop-up, which doesn't really feel that temporary, despite the store-fit being done in just under a week. You've seen the adidas Originals x Opening Ceremony bandana madness. You've seen the countdown of special products that the likes of Proenza Schouler, House of Holland and Norma Kamali have done. Now they're all under one roof alongside a good dose of Kenzo, hard-to-find labels like Toga, House of Matching Colours and Maria Pryor, representation from London in the form of Maarten van der Horst and Marques Almeida and of course their own Opening Ceremony line. The pop-up shop has also been fitted out with installations and furniture by Faye Toogood (what a brilliant surname to have) unifying the store somehow with her string art pieces.
Downstairs in amongst the concise and precise selection of menswear from the likes of Mark McNairy Amsterdam and Highland, the awesome Claire de Rouen Books gets its own section with a selection of rare magazines and monographs. I hope that stays on in the permanent store.
Faye Toogood table also for sale
I don't want to labour the obvious but Opening Ceremony's support of a far-flung network of young designers can't be overstated. I'll walk into the Soho store in New York and find myself researching and looking up brands I've never even heard of. Humberto and Carol are of course pioneers of travelling the world and then buying in collections themed around a certain country. We'll be getting a taste of Korean fashion when the permanent store opens. Instead of going for a specifically London-centric selection for the store, Opening Ceremony will reflect what they do best, which is to present an eclectic and often surprising selection.
What you get a sense of, from the pop-up is that collaborative way of working in fashion, which OC fosters. There are a lot of "Opening Ceremony x … " lines and collections, sometimes too many to keep up with. All of this goes above and beyond the remit of a boutique but then again Humberto and Carol have never done things the conventional way. They hold the unique position of being shop owners, buyers, creative directors of their in-house brand as well as the Parisian house, Kenzo. It's precisely this flurry of activity and constant output that keeps Opening Ceremony exciting to watch, to visit and to engage with. Opening Ceremony just turned ten this year and to add to this London Opening.
Oh, and you think this is OC-gush overload, I've not yet started on the fact that they've chosen to host their friends-and-family dinner tonight at Golden Dragon in Chinatown. A fashion dinner in Golden Dragon. That can't be beat. Apparently Humberto's mum has chosen the menu. I don't normally go all food bloggy on you but this is one special occasion that needs to be recorded for posterity. Stay tuned for porky goodness and garlicky greens.
Opening Ceremony Pop-Up now open at 31-32 King Street, London WC2E 8JD