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Spike Jonze, Wendy Leon and the Origins of Opening Ceremony | Taking a Page from OC

opening ceremony

This is Taking a Page from OC, a series in which we mine the essentially-out-of-print, highly collectible, Rizzoli-published Opening Ceremony—a 350-page book dedicated to the story of the iconic New York fashion brand.

Dive into the world of Opening Ceremony via Pop-In@Nordstrom x Opening Ceremony, our current Olivia Kim–curated shop. Dive into the book below. 

jonzeleonOne of the coolest aspects of the book Opening Ceremony is a pull-out zine created by Academy Award–winning director Spike Jonze. Jonze is a friend of OC and one of the brand’s many artistic collaborators, a theme we explored in our first installment of Taking a Page from OC.

Jonze uses the zine to get at the origins of Opening Ceremony—cofounded in 2002 by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim—by interviewing Wendy Leon, one of the matriarchs of the company.

Read on for excerpts and family photos galore.

Shop: Pop-In@Nordstrom x Opening Ceremony


“[Wendy Leon] immigrated from China to L.A. when Humberto was born [and is an] important part of the OC universe: she often travels the world with Carol, Humberto and Carol’s mom, Heidi, and cooks big meals for staff and friends wherever she is. She’s endlessly positive and fearless and strong-willed, which is how I’d describe Humberto and Carol and the company they’ve built.” —Spike Jonze

humberto1humbertoleonHumberto’s Work Ethic

“When [Humberto] was ten years old he already worked as a busboy, cashier, took to-go orders, answered the phones, and translated for my brother. Later on […] he never went anywhere. He never took a day off or had play dates with his friends. He was working the whole time.” —Wendy Leon


Carol’s Crucial Characteristic

“[Carol] respects older people—that is the most important thing, you know. [laughs] And that’s why I think she is close to Humberto like that. He is like that, too. I consider Carol my daughter and Humberto and her are like brother and sister.” —Wendy Leon

carollimtextblockEarly OC Dreams

“I was scared, but he wouldn’t listen. He said, ‘Mom, don’t worry. If we open a business and it fails and doesn’t work out, I can always go back to my job. But at least I tried.’ It’s a good thing he didn’t listen to me.” —Wendy Leon

Early OC Reality

“In the first year, they hired Olivia, who was their first employee, and it was just the three of them in that one store. […] Today, my son brings me everywhere like I’m somebody. [At the Opening Ceremony store opening] in Tokyo, I couldn’t stop crying—not like sad crying, you know?” —Wendy Leon

carolandhumbertoThe Meaning of OC

“They love to travel, they love to eat, they love their friends, they love to have a party. And all of that is in Opening Ceremony. They enjoy every single minute. They have so much energy and are always thinking of new things. That’s what Opening Ceremony is. Opening Ceremony is never ending. Every day it’s a surprise.” —Wendy Leon

 Shop: Pop-In@Nordstrom x Opening Ceremony