That book, screenplay, Web series based on the absurdities of daily life in the fashion industry that you’ve been meaning to write? It was upstaged in a major way Sunday night at the Opening Ceremony presentation.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim love nothing more than to stage a show, but the Opening Ceremony spring show was theater in its most literal sense. The collection was presented as a one-night-only one-act play titled “100% Lost Cotton” that revolved around the last-minute preparations for the spring collection. To direct, the designers got the king of meta, Spike Jonze, director of “Her,” and Jonah Hill, who cowrote the play with Jonze.
A small production executed on a grand scale, down to the mock Playbills that included an interview with Leon, Jonze and Hill on the origins of the project. To summarize: Leon is friends with Jonze; Jonze is friends with Hill. Creative collaboration is the founding currency of Opening Ceremony’s enterprise.
Jonze stacked the cast with the kind of talent available to Oscar-winning filmmakers: John Cameron Mitchell as Leon; Catherine Keener as Lim; Bobby Cannavale as Brian Molloy, their stylist; Alia Shawkat as Dylan, their hipster assistant; Elle Fanning as Julie, a naïve model just off the bus from the sticks; Dree Hemingway as Bella, a jaded, self-proclaimed “It” girl; Rashida Jones as Vogue’s Lisa Love; and Karlie Kloss as herself.
Taking in the show, besides the editorial and retail elite, were Allison Williams, Chloë Sevigny, Dakota Fanning, Jason Schwartzman and electronic dance music star Skrillex: It was community theater for a certain gated community.
Entering the building at 64th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, only those familiar with the bowels of the Metropolitan Opera House might have known they were walking through the set of “The Marriage of Figaro” on their way to bleacher seats. With the rising of the curtain came the revelation that the audience was on the stage of the Met, staring out into the orchestra. That alone was a moment.
As for the plot, it was pure farce, and charming at that, the narrative of a collective of lost souls, victims of their own self-invention, ego and insecurity. Leon and Lim obviously enjoyed poking fun at themselves and the industry. In one scene, Humberto enters with Brian and says, “OK, guys, the a–hole and the d–khead have returned.”At the suggestion that the collection could use a little more sex appeal, Humberto erupts: “Guys want to f–k girls in my clothes, right? Dylan, have you got f–ked in my clothes?”
Dylan: “Honest answer or dishonest answer?”
Perhaps the comedy landed depending on one’s taste for rapid-fire expletives and “hipster quips,” as they were called in the show. But it was impossible not to be impressed and entertained.
Bella had thought she was forever bonded with Brian after a drunken heart-to-heart at Sway that ended with him paying her the highest of hipster compliments — “You’re the baddest b—-h I know.” Subsequently, she’s defeated when he doesn’t remember her at the fitting a few weeks later.
But wait! This is supposed to be a fashion review, not a theater review. Opening Ceremony’s real spring collection played a supporting role. The lineup had color — orange and purple — with graphic lines and prints. There were skirts and dresses. It was just hard to notice when two Tony-winning actors are center stage.
Following a physical brawl over a mock love triangle between Brian, Humberto and his husband, Brian poses an existential question: When did life get so complicated?
Humberto deadpans, “It’s weird…this whole collection is about that.” He goes on to deliver the season’s inspiration in pure fashion-speak: “I don’t even know if it’s in there, but this whole collection is supposed to be about the summer of ’91, when Carol and I used to go pool-hopping together in high school. All we wanted to do was find another new pool to sneak into, you know? That’s all that mattered. Every new pool was like a new adventure.”
After the show, the real Leon said, “Actually, all of that is true, and the whole concept of the collection is all real and it was about the summer Carol and I had together. So Spike took that and spun it and made fun of us.”
Asked about the fact that the clothes were background props in the production, Leon said, “There are other avenues to see the clothes. We feel like this was really about the experience.” He was right. You had to be there.
The show closed with a performance of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by the cast, led by Fanning, who’s not only blessed with the face of an angel but the voice of one, too.
The lyrics “Just hold on, we’re going home” sent a heartwarming message about community and human connection. Or was it tacit acknowledgement of another fashion inside joke? Clocking in at roughly 45 minutes, “100% Lost Cotton” was pretty long by runway standards. But some shows are worth the time.