Even before Madonna’s cone bra, fashion and music have long been in bed with each other.
But the duo behind Opening Ceremony and Kenzo – Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who first founded OC as a retail store in downtown New York in 2002 – has scaled those one-night stands into a full-blown love affair, and the feeling is mutual. Rihanna, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea and Arcade Fire have all declared their affection by wearing OC and Kenzo clothes on- and offstage.
The pair, however, plays its position humbly. “It’s because we’re cultural nerds,” says Leon a few days before the start of New York Fashion Week, in which OC shows. (Kenzo, which they took over as co-creative directors in 2011, will show in Paris at the end of September.) For Leon and Lim, the relationship starts at the drawing board. At the OC New York headquarters, Britpop blares, including Suede, Blur, Oasis and Pulp (“Never underestimate the power of an amazing mix,” says Lim), while in Kenzo’s Paris offices, the mostly European team are having a moment with such female vocalists as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Christina Aguilera.
Each Kenzo show also features a unique score created by a different talent each season. So far, it has been an eclectic but impressive bunch that includes Jamie xx and Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. M.I.A., who has known the designers since she started out, says, “Humberto and Carol have always been unafraid of staying connected to the edge.”
As for the duo’s personal music proclivities, there’s talent there too. With the recent arrival of Leon’s 9-month-old twin girls, he says he’s working on his lullabies. The “Shapes Song 2” is one of his favorites. He explains: “It’s kind of folky — it has an adult music tinge to it. So I don’t feel silly singing it.”
Shop the looks at kenzo.com and openingceremony.com.