Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have never shied away from talking about politics. Last September, the duo organized a politically-charged fashion show starring a group of empowering actresses and activists, including Whoopi Goldberg, Rowan Blanchard, Aubrey Plaza, and Rashida Jones, who each presented a serious (yet comical) thought on the issues facing the United States amid a tumultuous election. The public uproar over the crises that have shaken the nation has escalated since then, leading the brand to take a firm stance again—this time, in collaboration with New York City Ballet.
Instead of a traditional runway show during New York fashion week (which officially starts on February 9), Opening Ceremony staged a protest-inspired ballet in celebration of immigrants and the American melting pot at the David H. Koch Theater last Saturday. Dubbed The Times Are Racing, the piece was choreographed by NYC Ballet’s resident choreographer, Justin Peck, and starred 20 members of the company who were outfitted in the brand’s new spring 2017 collection. Accompanied by a selection of exhilarating tunes from Baltimore-based composer Dan Deacon’s 2012 album, America, the ballet made its official debut earlier in the week, but no doubt, seemed all the more poignant on a night full of political unrest.
Trading tutus and pointe shoes for streetwear and sneakers, the dancers wore vibrant tees and tank tops with ’80s-style slogans like “Defy,” “Protest,” “Unite,” and “Fight,” as well as outfits that drew inspiration from photos of Ellis Island, the portal which welcomed over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. in the 19th century. The collection certainly felt relevant given the global backlash against President Trump’s executive order, which temporarily suspends immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The refugee ban instigated a new wave of protests at airports around the nation, drawing parallels to Opening Ceremony’s own demonstration that same evening.
This isn’t the first time the brand has collaborated with Peck. Two years ago, the creative team has caught the eyes of the fashion set when it sent down six NYC Ballet dancers on the runway for the spring 2016 show. The “models” took a series of falls—meticulously choreographed by Peck—inciting a collective gasp (and rolling camera flash) from the crowd. The next month, Leon debuted a set of unitard costumes for Peck’s new ballet New Blood.
“Justin has become a friend now, and we met the day after the election, and we were pretty bummed,” Leon told the Hollywood Reporter. “What’s great about this piece is that it debuted four days after the inauguration, while all this stuff was happening; but 20 or 30 years from now, this ballet will still be performed, and these clothes will be part of it. That definitely means something.”
The collection is available now for pre-order at openingceremony.com.
More on the world of ballet:
- This Ballerina Danced in a Beauty Ad With No Makeup
- What “Nude” Ballet Slippers Mean to One Black Ballerina
- Narciso Rodriguez, Dries Van Noten, and More Are Designing for the NYC Ballet
Ballerina Lauren Lovette shares her foot-care routine: