The Great White Way: Opening Ceremony
In the late 19th Century, the strip of Broadway running north from 23rd Street was named “The Great White Way,” in recognition of the fact that it was one of the first streets illuminated by electric light. That strip, which runs through the NoMad neighborhood, is once again earning the name. We’ve been and will continue to highlight some of the exciting new spots lighting up Broadway. (See our previous articles on the Flatiron Hotel, John Dory’s Oyster Bar, 40/40 and Marimekko)
A hundred years ago, high society was shopping for the unusual on Ladies Mile extending from 14th Street up to the Great White Way. As we continue our tour of the New White Way, our fifth featured location is Opening Ceremony. This unique retail format would have amazed those shoppers in 1900.
Located in the base of the Ace Hotel, Opening Ceremony has high ceilings, natural light, bright colors and an edgy mix of adventurous merchandise. It offers a combination of travel items and souvenirs collected expressly for the hotel’s clientele of traveling creative professionals and culturally curious tourists. Items range from wild beach towels to wilder toothbrushes. The store also presents seasonal clothing collections, ranging from American standards such as Levi and Pendleton to well known international designers such as Chloe Sevigny, Comme des Garcons, Alexander Wang, and up-and-coming stars, such as Alexandre Herchcovitch.
Perhaps the eclectic mix of items was best captured by Cintra Wilson of The New York Times:
“One walks past the video-art projected in the hall outside, showing roaring Oregon forest fires; then, once through the glass doors, into a bundle of interesting contradictions. Tumi luggage and men’s swim trunks are juxtaposed with Mylar packs of Gummi bears and British prawn crisps. Men’s shoes, like Rachel Comey’s rather brilliant mash-ups of classic men’s oxfords with incongruous red rubber soles ($350), are placed on shelves next to a section of crucial DVDs, including heartbreakingly stylish wonders from the Criterion Collection like Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘L’Avventura’ and Louis Malle’s ‘Elevator to the Gallows’.”
The store appropriates the mission statement of the Olympics merging sports, business and global participation and each year it adds another country to its home team, featuring special products from the USA, Hong Kong, Germany, United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan and Sweden. Both collaborative design and co-branding have been key aspects of the store’s retail philosophy.
While the store and the crowd are a great deal more relaxed than those of the 1890s, the excitement of the shopping experience really hasn’t changed much. Just as the wealthy shoppers at the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries, the Opening Ceremony shoppers of today are adventurers looking for the unusual, the new and the luxurious.
It is the unique character of boutiques like Opening Ceremony and its neighbors Maison Kitsune and Noir et Blanc that are giving NoMad a distinct area profile, absent the blandness often associate with the national and international chains. The Great White Way is developing in a special direction reflective of its past, and locals are optimistic that it will avoid the mall-like syndrome of many popular shopping streets in New York.Opening Ceremony at Ace Hotel 1190-1192 Broadway NY, NY 10001 T: 646.695.5680 F: 646.695.5681 E-mail: email@example.com Web: ace.openingceremony.us Hours: Mon – Sun 11am – 9pm