Opening Ceremony do a lot of cool things. In fact, sometimes they can be overwhelming in their endeavour for cool with their numerous collaborations, “x” ridden collections, parties, events and projects. But the fact of the matter is, you do come away from 95% of it all going, “Wow that’s pretty cool.” And then you berate yourself for sounding like a brainless sheeple. Last night though, the consensus was a resoundingly solid thumbs-up “That was really cool!” from everyone who dropped by the Cheim & Read Gallery to see Opening Ceremony’s A/W 15-6 presentation slash exhibition hybrid show “Please Use Your Best Judgement.”
The title is a reference to Spike Jonze’s process of selection when going through contact sheets, which conveniently ties in with the show’s sponsor Kodak (featured in a few of the looks). Lim and Leon had unprecedented access to Jonze’s photographic work, spanning the years of 1985 to 2005 from his early photography of the BMX/skate scene to stills from behind the scenes with Björk’s video for Triumph of a Heart from the album Medúlla. Waves of heartfelt nostalgia washed over us as we looked up at the 35mm film photographs of Björk, Karen O, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth and Sofia Coppola and for guys from the BMX and skate scene, in-action shots of Mark Gonzales, Ed Templeton and Mat Hoffman will no doubt have prompted the same.
This late 90s/early millennium era of optimism and blurry soft-hued photographs summated by the collection and the exhibition definitely stirred up my own memories of that period. When gigs at the Forum (RIP…), cute slogan t-shirts and running to The Shop (RIP again…) to check out X-Girl and Milk Fed (double RIP – unless you’re in Japan) ruled my world. The Opening Ceremony collection similarly taps into that casual don’t-care-if-everything-is-too-big look. If Britpop ever had a fashion aesthetic, this collection could certainly lay claim to it, what with the rain macs, shirt coats and culottes in autumnal retro-tinged shades. The highlight of the collection is definitely the pieces featuring collages of Jonze’s photographs. In particular, a print featuring outtakes of Björk, Chloe Sevigny and Kim Gordon pasted together like a sixth form year book scrapbook, will be on my personal hit list. The scribbles from Jonze’s contact sheets are also translated into a print – another example of the human hand creating pattern and print in recent collections to rebel against all things digital and instanteous. I’m no fan of saccharine nostalgia but Lim and Leon’s flash back and tribute to a genuinely inspiring epoch is difficult to resist. The chasmic gap between then and now means it feels good to look back and mine that decade for references. One look at Björk at the bottom of a pool in a diaphanous green dress blown up on the wall and there’s no way you wouldn’t want to tap into that bright-eyed exuberance.