Five Things You Probably Didn't Know About Opening Ceremony's Humberto Leon and Carol Lim

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) Fashion Talks series kicked off last night with Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the founders of Opening Ceremony and current creative directors of Kenzo. The talented twosome's trajectory has been impressive, to say the least: over the past decade, they've gone from a couple of UC Berkeley grads with a penchant for shopping to designers, business moguls and international arbiters of cool. They've also breathed new life into Kenzo, the iconic French fashion house launched in 1970 by Kenzo Takada. Read on for the best tidbits from Leon and Lim's talk, then click through to shop our favorite OC and Kenzo merch.

1. After shelling out for rent and renovations for Opening Ceremony's Howard Street space back in the early aughts, Leon and Lim barely had enough cash to fill the store with clothes. So they had their moms pitch in by making pieces for OC to sell! That's part of the reason why sweatshirts still have a mighty presence in the shop today: they're relatively easy to sew (not to mention super-cool).

2. Ever wonder how Havaianas flip-flops, previously a Brazilian beach staple, first entered the US market? Leon and Lim scooped up multiple pairs during a 3 am supermarket run during a trip to Brazil, then brought them back to New York to sell at Opening Ceremony. At the time, Havaianas had never shipped the rubber footwear internationally. The rest, as they say, is history.

3. Opening Ceremony was not the first name Leon and Lim considered for their jointly-owned store. The downtown mecca of chic was almost called Airport—and Terminal was another contender, though Leon worried it would remind shoppers of "a terminal illness."

4. Leon was named his high school's homecoming king, while Lim took the "Most Likely to Succeed" title. Who says high school superlatives don't matter?

5. Kenzo's Fall 2013 show wowed us with its croc-embossed outerwear and third eye-embroidered separates—and as it happens, Leon and Lim sought a little help from their friend M.I.A. while brainstorming themes. "We were discussing the idea of Indian temples with her," Leon explained. "And she suggested all these temples for us to visit." An idea was born—and M.I.A. wound up creating a special soundtrack for the runway, too, which you can stream below. It's awesome.

Photo: Fairchild Archive

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