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Opening Ceremony Swaps Runway for the Ballet

by Jocelyn Noveck
Monday Jan 30, 2017

The fashion label Opening Ceremony never disappoints when it comes to finding inventive ways to present its wares at New York Fashion Week. It has shown its clothes next to a wall oozing chocolate. It has sent models deliberately pratfalling down the runway. It has presented full theatrical productions.

This time, the label went arguably further outside the confines of Fashion Week, which begins early next month. It ditched the runway completely and instead invited hundreds of guests to the ballet on Saturday night, showing its designs on the writhing, leaping, athletic bodies of the New York City Ballet.

The costumes - brightly colored urban streetwear, accompanied with sneakers rather than pointe shoes - were conceived by Opening Ceremony's Humberto Leon and NYCB's young star choreographer Justin Peck, and featured in Peck's new ballet, "The Times Are Racing."

It was an unusually hip evening at the ballet, to be sure. Audience members included acting couples Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy, and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard - and that was only in one row. Peck, only 29 and already a celebrated choreographer, came onstage in casual garb before the performance and invited the crowd to "have a beer on us" after the show.

The Opening Ceremony designs were colorful and high-energy - shiny yellow parkas, black athletic pants with thick fuchsia stripes down the side, jean cutoff shorts, brightly hued trench coats - but they hardly upstaged the dancing in Peck's crowd-pleasing new ballet.

Star ballerina Tiler Peck (no relation to Justin) and especially an impassioned Robert Fairchild (her husband) were standouts. Some of the ballet's best moments were shared between Justin Peck, performing his own work, and Fairchild, both in jeans and white sneakers, flying across the stage in unison.

After the show, the spacious promenade of the David H. Koch Theater, usually home to somewhat older ballet patrons sipping from champagne flutes, turned into one big party. The free beer promised by Peck was handed out in plastic cups, and Baltimore-based electronic musician Dan Deacon - the composer of Peck's ballet - served as DJ.

The crowd milled around towering video screens bearing the work of Brooklyn-based visual artist Santtu Mustonen, part of City Ballet's five-year-old Art Series. On one of the high balconies overlooking the promenade, one young couple threw down their coats and bags and danced with abandon. No pointe shoes there, either.

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