NEW YORK, United States — Models fall down on the runway with alarming frequency. On Sunday night, Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon decided to turn embarrassment into performance art. The duo cast dancers as models, who darted down a winding road of a catwalk only to purposefully trip over their twisted-wooden heels. (Justin Peck, whose piece at the New York City Ballet’s Fall Fashion Gala on September 30th will feature costumes designed by Lim and Leon, choreographed the steps.) The first time it happened, the audience was alarmed. The next? Jarred but humoured.
Whether staging a satirical play (as they did two seasons ago) or asking models to take a tumble, Lim and Leon like to turn the mirror on the fashion industry, challenging show-goers to laugh at themselves. They are entertainers at heart, which can sometimes lead to shows that are more about the spectacle than the clothes. This season, however, marked a notable shift in direction. For designers so seemingly obsessed with youth culture, the collection felt more art teacher than art student, with its high-waist crop trousers, round-shoulder overcoats and jackets fastened together with big round metal buttons that had a sculptural shape to them. Even a pompon-dotted skirt cut straight and to the mid-calf, was elegant in its own way.
Perhaps it’s because Lim and Leon, too, are growing up. For Spring 2016, “objects inside a dream home” was the unlikely starting point. “All the things that you collect on your travels that you decorate your home with, whether it’s Japanese embroidered silk pillows or African throws,” Leon explained backstage before the show. “This conversation is about where we are in our lives today. We travel so much that we’ve been obsessed with being home.”
The dream OC home, they say, would be designed by mid-century modern American architect Frank Lloyd Wright; Lim and Leon pored over never-developed blueprints of Wright’s work, whose geometric stained-glass windows and gardens inspired the set, a live garden illuminated by mock stained-glass lamps. There were also visual nods to Wright throughout the collection, including basket weave dresses and skirts, an embroidered emblem on a crewneck sweater and the graphic detailing on an asymmetrical top. Wright’s bonsai trees were embroidered onto silk shift dresses and tees, which were layered up over loose silk trousers and under dressing gowns. Good clothes to wear around the house.
There were many dots to connect and, sometimes, the line wasn’t entirely clear. While the car-wash fringe dresses had the hard-edged feeling of past Opening Ceremony collections, something softer emerged in the loose robes and tie-waist trousers.