These designers are paying homage to inspiring Asians and Asian-Americans while making a fashion statement along the way.
Fashion brand Opening Ceremony, helmed by creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, released their look book, coinciding with February’s New York Fashion Week.
While the pieces in the catalogue are vibrantly stunning on their own, they’re even more striking because of those modeling them ― a cast of Asian and Asian-American pioneers, including the likes of renowned playwright David Henry Hwang, designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before author Jenny Han.
Leon told HuffPost that he and Lim have been undergoing a period of introspection. In many ways, this look book is a product of just that.
“I think it’s time to really time to reflect on where you are from,” Leon, the son of a Peruvian father and Chinese mother, told HuffPost. “My family worked really hard for me to be in America, but I am interested in where they grew up to better understand my place here. Carol and I are going through a time of self-love and appreciating that.”
The look book features Asian-American heavy hitters across several industries, including the music and culinary worlds. Leon explained that all those modeling the pieces have illustrated “how to break through in a world that doesn’t feel like we are represented.”
For instance, Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto not only mastered his own craft, Leon said. Sakamoto has also collaborated with the likes of David Byrne and Madonna. And with a number of film roles under his belt, Sakamoto has “broken the boundaries of not needing to only work in your field,” Leon says.
Others, like chef Angela Dimayuga, a force in the restaurant industry and queer *slaysian* dance party Bubble_T are “throwing really relevant parties in New York that are creating a narrative that is interesting when people are saying nightlife is dead in New York.” And of course, the designer paid homage to his roots, literally, with the inclusion of his mother Wendy.
But the models aren’t just those from other industries. While the fashion world is often stereotyped as unrelenting and competitively cutthroat, Lim and Leon have highlighted fellow designers, including Anna Sui. The decision to include others in the industry was “natural,” Leon says.
“There’s a ton of room at the top,” he explained. “There’s a place for everyone as long as your voice is authentic to you.”
As fashionistas flip through the pieces in the lookbook, Leon stressed that there’s one lesson he hopes everyone can take away.
“The message we are saying is that community is everything, love yourself, and assimilation is passé; celebrate individuality and love your heritage,” Leon concluded.