Forget the Olympics - Opening Ceremony are coming to London this month.

2012. not just another year. In the five years since 2007, the ticker tape dropping in ecstatic bursts on Trafalgar Square, David Beckham and Dame Kelly Holmes and Lord Seb Coe beaming in British-pride-victory across television screens throughout the land, those four numbers have bore the weight of a (pessimistic) country’s expectation. With Danny Boyle transforming Stradford’s Olympic Stadium into a £27 million pound “British Countryside” for an opening ceremony watched by a billion people, it’s time to mull over the impact of it all.

Wenlock and Mandeville, that logo, the pesky Spice Girls rumours, the inevitable over-budget outcry, Sir Paul doing a post-Jubilee patriotic double whammy, The Flame wheeled, walked, jogged across the country, the mass exodus of Big Smoke natives. London as we know it is being re-appropriated and repurposed for the eyes of the world but, amidst the inconvenience, there are positives.

An indication of Olympic reach stretching beyond the sporting and social to the shopping arena, the games’ knock-on effect to fashion in the capital can’t be ignored. Alongside the irony of Prada setting up shop in Stratford, Covent Garden is being graced with the arrival of Opening Ceremony. A 3,000-square-foot temporary store will open at 31-32 King Street to close following the Olympics and be replaced by a larger store at 35 King Street, and, apologies Danny Boyle, this Opening Ceremony is more than welcome.

The London outpost is the fourth Opening Ceremony to open after bricks and mortar locations were established in NYC, LA and Tokyo. Patrick Ervell, speaking exclusively to Clash, described Opening Ceremony as “my incubator and my nursery as a designer”, and pitching up in New York back in 2002, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon revolutionised the city’s (and probably the world’s) shopping landscape. Initially consisting of rare pieces by Hong Kong designers and self-designed pieces under the Opening Ceremony moniker, Lim and Leon gave voice and floor space to a new generation of talent and innovation.

Talk, inevitably, took hold and the great and good of NYC graced, purchased from and spread the word. Talking to Clash, womenswear designer Maarten Van Der Horst stated how “the thing about Opening Ceremony is that when you walk in, you don’t want to leave without buying something. Anything! Whether it’s a book, a pair of shoes or a killer jacket”, and Leon and Lim’s taste, attitude and enthusiasm drew in a customer who had nowhere else to go, presumably put off by the Pretty Woman style (‘Can I help you?’) propriety of other designer stores. Ten years on, Opening Ceremony stands as a beacon of a cult-destination store together with the likes of London’s Dover Street Market and Colette in Paris.

Outposts in Tokyo and LA followed, as did a slew of collaborations - hook-ups with Chloe Sevigny, Pendleton, Timberland and Rodarte to name but a few identify Ceremony’s unique support of design talent, be it fresh out-of-the-stocks or old-school established. Menswear designer (and OC collaborator) Christopher Shannon told Clash: “I’ve always loved that OC is really optimistic and take risks; the whole company has a really upbeat thing about it.”

The industry sat up and took note and in 2011 Lim and Leon were appointed the creative directors of Kenzo. Introduced to inject the house with “a youthful spirit and a sense of fun and cheekiness”, lauded Spring/Summer 2012 and A/W ’12-’13 collections followed, driving the brand forward in a burst of colour, print and affordable, attainable garms. Lim and Leon once again in collaborative mode, Spring/Summer 2012 sees Kenzo sidle up to New Era and Vans with 59FIFTY style caps shouting KENZO in big, fat capitals and Vans pumped up with archive Kenzo prints in an Opening Ceremony-like marriage of high-end and street, suburban iconic America and Japanese via Paris high-fashion.

And next in line for Lim, Leon and the Opening Ceremony crew? London. And why? Aside from the Opening Ceremony Olympic-related lolz that can be had, and for the cynics, the attention turned on the capital, it simply makes sense. Leon and Lim told WWD: “We have had our hearts set on London since the beginning”, and this Anglophile attitude is echoed in OC’s fearless investment in young British (or London-based) design.

In line with Christopher Shannon’s comment that “it’s amazing and a bit sad really that it takes a store from outside of the UK to come in and support UK designers so much”, a five-minute glimpse on the Opening Ceremony website reveals pieces from Christopher Shannon, JW Anderson, Marques/Almeida, James Long, Shaun Samson, Lou Dalton, Peter Pilotto, Elliott Atkinson, Nasir Mazhar, Simone Rocha, Sophie Hulme, and Maarten Van Der Horst amongst so many others - a who’s who of designers driving British fashion forward stocked on a scope and scale that nowhere in London currently replicates.

Whether it encourages London’s stores to take note and invest in homegrown talent, or further widens the gap between London’s offer and Opening Ceremony’s own remains to be seen but collaborations with Nike, Pendleton, Rodarte, Chloe Sevigny, Adidas, and Christopher Shannon - as well as unique pieces by Pamela Love, Proenza Schouler and Patrik Ervell - hit the shop floor running.

Words: Luke Raymond
Photography: Nicole Maria Winkler
Styling: Alice Goddard

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