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Opening Ceremony founders talk preference for hiring non-models

Opening Ceremony founders talk preference for hiring non-models

Opening Ceremony's founders scout dance schools and blogs to find models for their campaigns.

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon founded the brand in 2002 with a store in New York, and have since gone on to open boutiques in Los Angeles and Tokyo as well as online.

Over the years, Opening Ceremony has collaborated with labels including Rodarte, Topshop, Pendleton, and Maison Martin Margiela, but unlike other top brands, Lim and Leon prefer to scout their own models rather than engage agencies.

"I kind of look from afar," Leon explained to The New Yorker of his choice to model hunt at prestigious dance, drama and music school Juilliard and on dance blogs. "My M.O. (modus operandi) is always, you hire people because of their skills. I want to see what they know. I don't want to see my version of what they know."

With Opening Ceremony, Leon and Lim have partnered with a number of creative people, including Spike Jonze, Terence Koh, and Chloe Sevigny. And in spite of their success, the designers sometimes worry that their concepts are too far out of the box.

"I worry that now a lot of people's first impressions of the store are 'I'm not cool enough,' that it's too 'Fashion,'" said Lim. "But when people spend time and strike up a conversation, they seem to get it - like, 'There is stuff for me.'"

In 2011, Carol and Humberto embarked on a new journey as the creative directors of Kenzo, taking the luxury French fashion house into a new chapter. For their fall/winter 2017 collection, the pair didn't hold back when it came to their chosen theme, climate change.

"We wanted to see how we could bring up climate change in a collection, which isn't super easy," shared Lim.

"Then we discovered this thing called Arctic surfing," added Leon. "It juxtaposed the idea of a summer sport in a winter atmosphere, so we used it to question, Where is this world going?"

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