To some, perhaps, the worlds of designer and high-street fashion are just competing networks of brands, jostling against one another in order to help themselves, and of course their shareholders, to the biggest possible slice of the pie.
But, in reality, a change occurred – led in 1993 by the revolutionary introduction of Designers at Debenhams – and now designers seem to jump at the chance to get into bed with their former rivals.
One brand which appreciates the caché of a stellar hook-up is Opening Ceremony, the New York label which appeals to hip young things as far flung as Los Angeles, London and Tokyo (and is stocked by Harvey Nichols in the UK). Founded by University of California, Berkeley alumnus Carol Lim, an economics graduate, and her friend Humberto Leon, who studied art history. Both forged early careers in merchandising – Lim used her business acumen as a merchandise planner for Swiss luxury-goods firm Bally, while Leon worked his way up to the role of visual director at Gap. The pair left corporate fashion in 2002 to begin Opening Ceremony, seeking to bring their love of travel and fashion to a concept boutique, with reference to the spirit of the modern Olympics and its founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who transformed the Ancient Greek ideal into a modern business venture. Working from this foundation, Lim and Leon applied the elements of global participation and business to fashion retail, most demonstrably by enlisting designers and artists of a foreign country or city to be represented within its retail spaces.
As well as stocking designers with impeccably cool credentials from around the globe – think Proenza Schouler, Comme des Garçons, Christopher Kane and Carven – the brand has become known for its original collaborations. This season there is plenty in store, from a brand new collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela's MM6 line to further collections from Rodarte and Chloë Sevigny.
Launched in 1997, MM6 is the younger diffusion line by the avant-garde Belgian designer Martin Margiela. Continuing the main line's aesthetic of deconstruction and reconstruction, as well as its humour, MM6 is designed for life's casual moments.
Building on the transformative power of garments, select styles from this collaboration can be converted into separately wearable pieces. Taking inspiration from the construction of a jacket with a detachable lining, 20 original styles can be converted at the tug of a zip or the pop of a button.
Intrinsically functional, the collection is built on a classic colour palette of black, brown and grey with occasional flashes of red and white.
Footwear, bags and accessories are available alongside design-led clothes. Tote bags with external compartments attached by poppers and leather legwarmers to turn ankle boots into knee-highs, are baby-step pieces for those not ready for the entire look.
Kate and Laura Muleavy, known for their costume design for the Darren Aronofsky film Black Swan, have a penchant for collaboration – having previously worked with US retail giant Target and created a somewhat controversial collection for Mac cosmetics.
This, their second collaboration with Opening Ceremony, takes inspiration from Scandinavia with a colour palette that captures the bright light of winter interspersed with ochre, sage and sky blue. A faux Astrakhan coat in maroon brings to mind an innocent fairytale princess, while ruffles and patterns are used to ensure the long silhouette retains a youthful aesthetic.
The sisters Muleavy – who also studied at Berkeley – have won praise for their designs, which incorporate intricate detailing and fabric innovation. This collection is no different, featuring cardigans in metallic Lurex and mohair, lambskin-stripped leather skirts and Fair Isle knits for men and women.
Footwear is an integral part of the collection too, as crochet booties, glitter leather heels and prints continue the textural motif.
First launched for spring/summer 2008, Opening Ceremony's ongoing collaboration with actress Sevigny is about to launch its fourth collection. For Resort 2012, available from November, Sevigny explored the interplay between complementary opposites, creating a collection filled with contrasts – exemplified by laser-cut detail on frilled leather dresses of black and white. This exploration of dark and light continued with the use of flounces and frills alongside cut-out detailing, revealing flashes of bare skin with a hint of buttoned-up Victoriana.
Sevigny has mined her own experiences to bring the trends of her formative years back to life in a modern way – previously she has explored nostalgia for her early days in New York, music from her youth and her suburban upbringing. This collection was inspired by the street trends of the early Nineties and Sevigny enlisted skate brand Vision Street Wear to resurrect logo-laden accessories from its archives.Reuse content