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Elle Decor Italia

Shopping and partying at Opening Ceremony, the coolest, multi-faceted store in Manhattan

The brand, founded in 2002, is one among the most influential ones in the world. Let’s discover the first and most iconic store ever, a real crossroads of entertainment and art

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony 

Located at the intersection of Soho and Chinatown in downtown New York, Opening Ceremony is one of Manhattan’s coolest fashion addresses

It is regarded as the coolest shopping address in New York. A brand that is driving crazy both celebrities and fashion addicts, at the same time avoiding snobbery. It’s Opening Ceremony we are talking about, a perfect example of how fashion, art and entertainment can successfully coincide. If you think that the whole fashion system is nothing but an extended version of The Devil Wears Prada, Opening Ceremony will make you change your idea. Here you can find clothing collections and objects from all parts of the world, for all budgets, and it is not rare that a DJ set or a wild party begins just after closing time. 

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony

What you see above is the place where it all began: Howard Street 35. Carol Lim and Humberto Leon established it in 2002, after knowing each other at Berkeley University. They both shared a passion for music and an autodidactic approach to fashion, completely free from preset definitions, something that had nothing to do with ordinary luxury shop windows and glossy magazines. Album covers, the street, flea markets - the Salvation Army, even – helped nourish the duo’s imagination. Travels, though, were – and still are –, more than anything else, the real engine of their creativity. Is it not by chance that Opening Ceremony takes its name from modern Olympic Games, the global event par excellence. So much so that, each year, the shop “hosts” a different country, making New York people acquainted with the most faraway, exotic designers and styles.

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony

What was initially just a small shop located between Soho and Chinatown, where Humberto and Carol used to display their collections of revisited sweatshirts – like the famous one with a diamond in its middle – and creations by friends, today is a four-story store (including a twin shop located next door, at 33), alternating store shelves and artistic installations. A place that constantly changes its skin, giving carte blanche to the latest creative designer. Today a sort of stylized temple stands amidst shoe pairs and clothes: thin columns and arches made of blue and fuchsia metal within a sophisticated grey and white casing… tomorrow, who knows?

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony

Rodarte, Topshop, Pendleton and Maison Martin Margiela are only a few of the prestigious partnerships that have consecrated Opening Ceremony into the Gotha of fashion. So much so that InStyle (the leading site for celebrity style, editor’s Note) has defined it ‘the most influential fashion retail brand in the last decade’. Big artists such as Spike Jonze, Terence Koh and Chloë Sevigny have happily associated their names to the brand. You might be tempted to believe the whole thing’s nothing but an ordinary marketing operation – here the basic rule is friendship, though. Humberto, for instance, used to take Kung Fu lessons with Spike Jonze that duly ended in long walks around New York. The city, with its thousand souls, plays an essential role in the brand aesthetics, with a particular focus on American designers, like Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and Patrik Ervell, at the same time gladly opening its doors to new, emerging names and talents from all over the world. Opening Ceremony has a particularly special bond with the Far East: Humberto and Carol are both of Asian origins, something that is constantly visible in some object scattered throughout the store, if only a simple Korean face mask. 

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony

Such a big success could not fail to become a self-standing collection, made up of original, casual and identity pieces, with street-inspired prints and iconic motifs. Grand-style runway shows? No, thanks. Artistic and choreographic performances of contemporary dance are preferred in these parts – even better when staged by non-professional models. Instead of ordinary commercials, mini-movies are shot – family style, in a way. Although the duo identifies themselves more as retailers than fashion designers, Carol and Humberto have recently got into the world of top-influential fashion – i.e. French fashion of noble lineage – managing to become creative directors for Kenzo. Their first move was to focus on freshness and playfulness, with immediate, successful results. 

Courtesy of Opening Ceremony

The two barely 40 year-olds have no intention to rest on their laurels, though. Opening Ceremony, that already features a massively clicked e-commerce website and a blog, is getting ready to expand by exporting the New York paradigm virtually everywhere, nonetheless without running the risk to become a conventional, formulaic, artificial receptacle. Today there are already stores in Los Angeles, London and Tokyo. Waiting for the establishment of the first Italian flagship store, we can only suggest you make a brief visit to the Big Apple – regardless of the fact that, while you are reading this article, the fuchsia arches might have been already dismantled in favor of a new theme. Yes, because this is precisely the spirit of the store: to amaze each time, inviting everyone to attend the next party.


Courtesy of Opening Ceremony 



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