It could have been just another runway presentation. But Opening Ceremony — the hip, colorful New York label that counts Katy Perry and Charli XCX among its fans — decided to use its 9/11 show slot to get out the vote, and had some well-known friends to aid in the effort.
In a glass-paneled room at the Jacob K. Javits Center decorated with dozens of country’s flags, Portlandia co-creators Fred Armstein and Carrie Brownstein (who is also a guitarist and vocalist for the indie punk trio Sleater-Kinney) took to the stage to host a 40-minute event that was part runway show, part stand-up performance and part faux-pageant. They kicked off by asking the audience, largely composed of fashion press and buyers, to participate in a series of lighthearted (and, if you didn’t know the person next to you all that well, occasionally awkward) questions-and-answers with their neighbors, explaining it as prep for having their voices heard come November.
Soon, models — wearing form-fitting striped knit dresses, artfully cut parkas, zippy little jackets and miniskirts, and wide-cut boots from the label’s spring/summer 2017 collection — joined them on the stage, doing their best to suppress their smiles as Brownstein and Armisen cracked jokes in their robotic manner and trailed them about the room. In between, a number of Opening Ceremony’s celebrity friends and frequent collaborators, also clad in the label’s collection, took to the stage, including Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant, Arrested Development alum Alia Shawkat, Parks and Recreation actresses Rashida Jones and Aubrey Plaza, Orange Is the New Black stars Diane Guerrero and Natasha Lyonne and, to riotous applause, none other than Whoopi Goldberg. In the style of pageant contestants, they addressed questions on topics ranging from immigration reform to how feminism can become more inclusive. Their answers were sometimes poignant, other times purely humorous: When asked what “poise and confidence” meant to her, Bryant quipped that poise was a line of feminine care products before breaking out into a dance.
At the end, they made a final plea for guests to vote in the upcoming election. None drew quite as many cheers as Goldberg’s response. “You should vote because if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch,” she said.