Who says sex doesn’t sell.
Certainly not editorial-based contemporary resale web site Byronesque, which in March took over the last porn movie house in Paris for a pop-up shop that played to a sold-out crowd. Now, Byronesque is plying its risqué theme with a pop-up at Opening Ceremony, which changed its name to Oporning Ceremony for the occasion.
OC x Byronesque Vintage, which will operate through July 23, marks Byronesque’s official launch of men’s wear.
The vintage web site is on hiatus while it’s being redesigned. “When we come back, we’ll have a men’s section,” said Gill Linton, chief executive officer and editor in chief of Byronesque. “We’ll also be blowing out accessories.”
Linton revealed that Byronesque is partnering with a magazine platform to develop a new — not vintage — collection, its first. She also didn’t rule out opening a freestanding store. “I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we opened a permanent store, or certainly a permanent in-store thing with an Opening Ceremony of the world.”
Byronesque mined the Nineties for the OC pop-up, which features 300 items including some from Helmut Lang, Raf Simons and Balenciaga. London’s Vexed Generation, which has been called “the British Helmut Lang of their time,” opened its archive for the first time, exclusively to Byronesque.
“This is perhaps the best collection we’ve ever had,” Linton said. “The Nineties was the last time fashion was at its most creative and, while that’s starting to change, we still think it’s essential to uphold the creative defiance of these important vintage designers and the culture they created.”
Linton said she wanted to connect with Opening Ceremony for a couple of years. “Humberto [Leon, Opening Ceremony cofounder], saw what we did in Paris and said, ‘Let’s have lunch,'” she said. “They moved very quickly. When I met Humberto, I knew we’d found our spirit animal.”
Leon said Byronesque is bringing new customers to Opening Ceremony, and “we are probably introducing new customers to Byronesque. I don’t think our customer base is as different as one may think.”
In fact, that’s one of the reasons for the hook-up. “One of the main reasons we partnered is because our customer would absolutely love to shop both [Opening Ceremony and Byronesque],” Leon said. “We’ve always had a very democratic approach in showcasing our love of the fashion world and everything it has to offer.
“Byronesque has a devotion to telling the stories of authentic brands that I really appreciate,” added Leon. “I love their love of fashion and the history behind it. In the end, we are both fashion nerds, so it’s exciting to be able to see museum-worthy pieces for sale. We have original dress-form pieces from Margiela, as well as cargo pants from Balenciaga, all iconic.”
OC x Byronesque Vintage occupies prime real estate at Opening Ceremony. “They gave us the whole front section from the window to the cash wrap,” Linton said. “We also have a separate place for vintage Martin Margiela in the secret back room on the third floor. It’s a secret collection. It’s incredibly iconic.”
Prices range from $400 for Vexed Generation pieces to $30,000 for a Martin Margiela unisex duvet coat.
Due to their rarity, select pieces will drop over the course of the pop-up, and are available for purchase by appointment only or through Byronesque’s personal shopping app. The items include various Nicolas Ghesquière-designed Balenciaga pieces from 1997 to 2012; Helmut Lang horsehair sandals circa 2004; Raf Simons’ New Order/Peter Saville parka from fall 2003, and Raf Simons’ plastic poncho, fall 2002.
Byronesque was banned from showing a porn film in Paris, but it has a short film running in a loop in Opening Ceremony’s window. “It’s basically people’s lips,” Linton said. “Two women are saying things, like ‘You know you want it,’ luring you in. It’s like a red light in a window in Amsterdam.”
There’s a wild-posting campaign in downtown Manhattan, and a manifesto pamphlet lamenting the loss of Nineties fashion will be handed out at New York Fashion Week: Men’s. “Censored” fashion porn posters feature a beefcake on one and another with a woman, her bare posterior covered by a thick black line. The catalogue features photos with phrases like: “Fabia from Fishskill wearing Lang fishnet heels”; “Babs from Busti is a show-off in a sheer lace Balenciaga top,” and the cover line: “Byronesque swings both ways with a hard-core collection of Nineties fashion,” along with: “You know you want it, you filthy vintage minx.”
Linton said the idea of fashion porn came from “people’s obsession with something that’s a little less worthy, like a pair of shoes. Originally when I saw the Margiela collection, I said, ‘this is like porn for people.’ The most sexy vintage Maison Martin Margiela was from 1980 to 2009. Nineties fashion for many is a fetish.”