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Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon Talks Working with Spike Jonze and More

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon with Spike Jonze and Mark Gonzalez backstage at the Fall 2015 collection. Image: Getty

The post-show crowd that made its way from Opening Ceremony’s Sunday presentation to its after party at Happy Ending was none like any else. If anything, they were intrepid: devoted friends and fans who trudged through the city’s subzero temperatures and its glacial wind chill to fete Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, as well as film director Spike Jonze, who was celebrated through a one-night-only photo exhibition of his past work.

But for those who weathered the elements there was a prize: pizza.

“Oh, I would never miss this,” said designer Adam Selman, sanguine from the cold, clad in a thick down jacket. “They support me, I support them. This is what’s it’s about,” he said of the night. “Bringing your team together to come together.”

Indeed, it was a giant pizza party that both designers threw for their staff and friends that occurred on the second floor. Jake Gyllenhaal sat there in a corner, chugging a beer. He dodged cameras, ducking whenever he saw iPhone flashes. So was Jonze, who sat at a booth, biting into a slice, not to be bothered. Lim ensured her friends were well fed, putting slices onto paper plates. 

Santigold was lodged between friends and talked about the eventful year she’s had. “You know, I had a baby,” she exclaimed. “Everything has been so great. I love it. It’s so much fun, I love being a mom. [My son’s] the funniest awesome baby. Like today, I was going like (makes a face) and he just cracked up. He was cracking up tears laughing. At 10 months with tears!”

The singer said that her new record was almost completed and would be out by the summer. “It’s been challenging getting back in the headspace and having a baby, but I can now see the end,” she said.

Between entertaining guests and being by Jonze’s side, Leon sipped cocktails and tried to be as relaxed as possible. After all, the party was considered his escape.

“I go straight to Paris to work on Kenzo,” he said, between sipping his mixed Svedka vodka drink. “So I’m celebrating now. This is my vacation, that’s why the palm trees are here!” It had already been a long day. Earlier, he had showcased the brand’s latest collection and an exhibition for Jonze full of apparel items inspired by the director’s personal photo archive.

“Spike had given us a big gift as a play,” Leon said of last season’s show held at the Metropolitan Opera House, starring the likes of Elle Fanning, Catherine Keener and Dree Hemingway, among others. “This season was us giving him a gift. It was me showing a really intimate conversation, like a friend showing photos of their past. I was inspired by it so I designed a collection around it. For everyone who came tonight, it was celebrating the process, film and photography.”

Leon—who said his favorite films by Jonze were Her, Where the Wild Things Are and Adaptation—admitted how he felt burdened to create something that the director would enjoy.

“I felt a lot of pressure,” he said. “I wanted him to be so excited when he saw everything and hope he was. It was a lot to take in. A lot of people don’t realize that Spike is about a sense of emotion and humanity to the arts. It’s the intimate side you never get to see.”

And with another swig of his cocktail, Leon went to join Jonze’s side, as both bantered, joked and ate more pizza, while other guests continued to bob their heads to the smooth and relaxed beats from the DJ.  

It was said to be the chilliest night of the year, but inside Happy Ending it was just cool. It was Opening Ceremony, after all.

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