Who shows the showmen? Baz Luhrmann, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber were all in the crowd tonight at Opening Ceremony's first runway show. You'd hardly want to suggest that Humberto Leon and Carol Lim invited the reigning gods of silver screen and arena pop for the purpose of out-entertaining them. So let's say only that the duo proved at least the equal of anyone in the house. If all the world's a stage—and with their other baby, Kenzo, grabbing the spotlight in Paris and O.C. hitting the runway in New York, for Leon and Lim, it increasingly is—they're directing on an epic scale.
Through an O.C.-erected, riverside mini mall (hot dog cart, zine newsstand, nail salon, pop-up shops), an audience of thousands filed into what looked like a covered car park. Maybe that should have made it a foregone conclusion that fifteen-odd sports cars zoomed in. Out of each climbed the models, who made their way, no less souped-up than their rides, around the endless track. The reference, the designers said after the show, was to the car-craziness of their suburban, Southern California youth, where street races in abandoned washes were the entertainment of choice. That influence coupled with an homage to Lim's background and a loose interpretation of traditional Korean garments. The crossed-strap tops owed roughly equal debts to wrapped Korean jeogori jackets and seat belts.
The rest navigated a path between streetwear and fashion: culottes like upscale basketball shorts, oversize neoprene T-shirt tops, cargo shorts, and tank dresses. In technically savvy jacquard and elegant crepe, they had a shiny insta-appeal. But at the center of the maelstrom, the collection's bright snazziness belied a reticence to test the boundaries of its lane. It may be that the clothes struggled to be heard over pomp and circumstance's roar. But then, part of Opening Ceremony's charm is that it's about the whole package. It's the show, it's the clothes, it's the after-party, it's the mall. The talk around the tents this week has been of fashion fatigue and ennui. The day's best antidote was Leon and Lim's dazzling brand of showmanship.