Opening Ceremony's One-Act Play for New York Fashion Week Received Mixed Reviews
So it finally happened — Jonah Hill and Spike Jonze's one-act for Opening Ceremony was performed on September 7th for a crowd teeming with fashion's elite. But what was the play about? And did those members of the fashion elite actually enjoy the show? Well, the reviews are mixed.
According to The Guardian, the play, entitled "100% Lost Cotton," was a satirical look at the fashion world "set during the castings and fittings for an imaginary Opening Ceremony catwalk show, with a story playing out between designers, stylists, models and journalists. Actor Elle Fanning played Julie, a 16-year-old model newly arrived from Oklahoma; Catherine Keener played a fictionalised, monstered version of Carol Lim." Tongue-in-cheek lines like, “Her legs are making that skirt look horrible. What’s wrong with your legs? Are these your normal legs?” set the joking tone, to the delight of many of the fashion insiders who were present.
Suzy Menkes called the show, "powerful, penetrating and discomforting enough to have the fashion audience squirming," while Leah Chernikoff of Elle wrote that "100% Lost Cotton" was "surprisingly poignant." Lucky's Eva Chen tweeted, "Hard to encapsulate @openingceremony's play into 140 characters but it was part mockumentary, part drama, part musical, all genius. bravo!" But not every major fashion player was pleased with the production.
Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief critic of the New York Times, delivered a scathing review of "100% Lost Cotton," critiquing Opening Ceremony's transparent attempt to "promulgate the idea of Opening Ceremony as the coolest brand in New York Fashion Week" at the expense of showcasing the collection and at the stereotypical way in which Hill and Jonze chose to mock the industry.
I have no issue with mocking fashion — I do it enough myself, and it is a sector ripe for the poking. Nor do I have an issue with the idea of fashion week transmogrified into a pure marketing exercise, where a brand sells a concept instead of clothes. Indeed, I think Opening Ceremony might as well have taken the idea to its natural conclusion and forgotten about showing the collection altogether.
However, if you are going to mock fashion, and you are going to do it, as O.C. did, in front of an insider audience, you need to do it in a really thought-through, powerful way. You need to grapple with the industry as it is, not its clichés.
Ouch. Harsh words from Friedman, but they aren't without merit. I especially take issue with the decision to distract from the collection with gimmicky performance art, however entertaining. There are ways to have fun with fashion without ensuring that no one is talking about your designs the day after your fashion week presentation.
Hopefully Opening Ceremony will release a video of the 30-minute play so we can assess it for ourselves.