Old pals Chloë Sevigny and Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have been collaborating for six years on Sevigny’s collection for the retailer—and they’ve broken bread frequently in the process. Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport joined Sevigny and Leon at Opening Ceremony’s HQ to discuss all sorts of dining and dressing matters.
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
Fashion first: How did Chloë’s capsule collection come about?
Humberto Leon: Somebody asked Chloë in an interview, “Would you ever design your own line?” and she said, “I’d do a couple dresses for Opening Ceremony.” I asked her if it was true, or if she was just being a good friend!
Chloë Sevigny: In the beginning, I was frightened. I initially planned to do three dresses, but I had a lot of ideas. Humberto said we should do them all!
What’s the process like?
Chloë: When Humberto’s not around, I panic, because then I have to make all the decisions! I prefer to bounce the ideas off him.
Humberto: Chloë is 100 percent involved; the product is so genuine. She cares about the lookbook’s paper quality, shoeboxes, how we can reduce wastage…
Chloë: The OC design team sees me coming and runs in the opposite direction. “Her again?”
Adam Rapoport: You’re not a trained designer—what’s the most challenging aspect?
Chloë: The jargon. I’ll try to explain a pleat and not know what I’m talking about.
What do you guys eat while designing?
Chloë: Some nice little girl in a cute outfit puts out blueberries, almonds, and green tea—three of my favorite things.
How much Opening Ceremony garb is in your closets?
Chloë: My closet’s all OC.
Adam: I go to the OC store in the Ace Hotel a lot.
Chloë: Are you, like, a preppy…?
Adam: Kind of. Fit is always the most important thing. I once got a T-shirt tailored because it was too long.
Where can we buy your closet cast-offs, Chloë?
Chloë: I’m really into recycling, and I like guilt-free shopping, so I sell a lot to Tokio 7. Whatever they give me, I just put right back into the store. Also, when I lived on 10th Street, every year they shut down the block for a stoop sale. I raked it in!
How do you guys feel about spring cleaning?
Adam: Editing your closet is an incredibly satisfying thing. I’ll color code everything…
Chloë: Me, too! I think all three of us are probably very OCD.
Humberto: Chloë and I both have archives in storage spaces.
Chloë: It’s nothing to be proud of! It’s more of an embarrassment. I still have stuff from high school…and junior high.
What’s the one that got away?
Chloë: A Balenciaga vest. And some OC pieces that were my go-to’s.
Humberto: I’m also really nostalgic. I keep every ticket stub, every Playbill…
Adam: Chloë, if you had to pinpoint an age that you were at your fashion peak, your style supremacy…what would that be?
Chloë: A few years ago, when I was 35. I just had it going on.
Humberto: You still got it goin’ on.
What’s it like to spot people wearing your designs?
Chloë: I love it. I sometimes ask if I can take pictures with them!
Humberto: You do a lot of secret photo-taking, too. Chloë will send me a picture taken from afar, saying, “That girl’s wearing our hat!”
Do you hold onto all of your designs?
Chloë: No, but sometimes I see pieces I’ve done at Wasteland in L.A. or Tokio 7 in New York and I think that I should probably buy it again for my archives!
Humberto: You’re kind of over a collection after you’ve dealt with it for six months. When it hits stores, we try to give Chloë one of everything, and she’s like, “I can’t handle it right now. I can only take 10 pieces.”
Chloë: Sometimes I give pieces to my girlfriends and tell them, “Don’t you dare bring that to Beacon’s Closet! If you want to get rid of it, bring it back to me.”
Adam: It’s like an artist buying back their own work in an auction.
OK, food: What did you guys eat during your salad days in the city?
Chloë: I moved to New York when I was 17 and ate a lot of buttered rolls and rice and beans. I had veggie hotdogs for dinner every night.
Humberto: I ate at a lot of those cabbie-loved Indian spots.
Adam: Every day for lunch during my freshman year of college, I’d get a turkey club, a Coke, and fries with thousand island and ranch dressing. It was not a low calorie affair, but whatever, I was 18 years old. It was the best meal ever.
What did your parents cook growing up?
Humberto: My mom is a chef, so there was always homemade Chinese food. She lived in India for three years, so she got really into Indian food, too.
Chloë: My father hated poultry, so it was a lot of meatloaf, pork chops, iceberg lettuce. Hearty fare—my mom was Polish.
Adam: Dude, I think we grew up in the same household. My mom’s also Polish. She’d make a really good meatloaf, with three strips of bacon on top that we’d all fight for.
Chloë: I have really romantic memories of my mom and I baking together, especially strawberry shortcake. I was strawberry-obsessed. Whenever I ate them I’d get a rash on my belly, but I still eat them constantly.
On the topic of takeout: are any of you Seamless addicts?
Humberto: I do Seamless quite a bit. I have kids, so there’s less time to cook.
Chloë: On the go, I’ll get one of those quinoa avocado salads at Le Pain Quotidien.
Adam: The quality of food you can get delivered in NYC is astounding. What bothers me about ordering Thai food is the amount of plastic containers. It’s frightening.
What are your food phobias?
Adam: Bananas suck. They’re smelly and mushy. They are the tuna fish sandwiches of the fruit world.
Humberto: You don’t like tuna fish sandwiches either? Crazy!
Chloë: I still have a hard time with a lot of seafood, like scallops.
Adam: We grew up in the same house! I don’t think my mom made seafood. I’m pretty sure I never ate a piece of fish in my 18 years before I left the household.
Chloë: I don’t think I did, either.
Humberto: Also, you’re not a big tofu fan.
Chloë: I hate tofu. Too slimy. I liked meat substitutes when I was vegetarian, but not anymore.
How did you start eating meat again?
Chloë: I was vegetarian for 14 years and suddenly I was overcome with a craving. For Christmas, my brother went to Dean & DeLuca and bought tons of fancy cheeses, olives, and hard salamis. We had all this beautiful hard salami and I was like “Goddamn!” and I just went for it. That’s the worst meat to go for, right?
Adam: The weird, cured, not actually cooked meat.
Chloë: I have a really salty palate. Apparently it has to do with what your mother was eating a lot of when you were being breastfed.
Are you salty or sweet?
Adam: I’m definitely salty, fatty, and crispy more than sweet.
Was anything off-limits when you were kids?
Adam: My older brother and sister were never allowed to have sugared cereal, anything sweet. Maybe soda on Friday night while watching The Love Boat or Fantasy Island. When they went to college, I was in 10th grade, my mom was like, “You can have whatever!” Suddenly we had Mountain Dew and Cool Ranch Doritos at home. All bets were off.
Humberto: Everything was available to me from birth.
Chloë: It depended on what coupons we had in the house.
Which of your friends is the best cook?
Humberto: Chloë! She makes a mean spicy watermelon salad.
Chloë: I just put in whatever Barefoot Contessa tells me to put in it.
Which restos are you obsessed with these days?
Humberto: I recently found Somtum Der, a really, really good Northern Thai restaurant in the East Village. They do calamari pad see ew, catfish larb, chicken wing soup—super specialty, but super delicious and really authentic.
Adam: Ignacio Mattos at Estela is cooking phenomenal food right now. Simple, so thoughtful, and deceptively delicious.
Chloë: I just moved to Park Slope, and I’m obsessed with finding restaurants in my new neighborhood. Also, my boyfriend moved here from Los Angeles, so I’ve been bringing him to New York institutions, like The Odeon, Grand Central Oyster Bar, and Sparks, the greatest steak in New York.
What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled to eat something?
Adam: Last September I was in Milan for this Condé Nast dinner, and the night before, GQ’s Jim Nelson and I drove to Modena to go to Osteria Francescana. It’s one of the best restaurants in the world and chef Massimo Bottura is a really nice guy. The next day, we told [David] Remnick of The New Yorker. He was like, “You drove an hour and a half for dinner? What’s wrong with you people?” Ironically, two months later there was a profile on Massimo in The New Yorker.
Humberto: I’ve driven to Blue Hill at Stone Barns with my family; there were 11 of us. Also, I go to New World Mall in Flushing a lot—it has a basement food court that’s super legit. You feel like you’re in another world. I grew up working in malls so I’m kind of obsessed with food courts: the Orange Julius from here, the cheese fries from there…
Chloë: When I was in Tokyo with the OC team, we went to a sushi bar that took over an hour to get to. It seemed like a really long ride to eat some raw fish, but it was worth it!
Do you ever get food envy while dining out?
Chloë: I’m generally pretty happy, but I also don’t like to share.
Adam: I’m all for sharing appetizers, but my entrée is mine. I ordered it because I want it. I hate the passing of the plates! That’s just annoying.
Chloë: I envy when people order fries—I’m an actress, so I try not to eat them. [Laughs]
Humberto: I’ve been known to order two or three meals…and say they’re for sharing.
Chloë: Humberto orders everything on the menu. But then we eat it all! We have big appetites.
Road trip pit stop of choice?
Humberto: Growing up in California, I was a big Taco Bell fan. Nowadays I think about it, but I don’t do it. But I think about it a lot.
Adam: Popeyes is awesome. I get red beans and rice, coleslaw, biscuits, and chicken.
Chloë: Cracker Barrel. In the ’90s I had a boyfriend in Nashville, and I was always going to and from there. I’d get a book on tape at one Cracker Barrel and return it at the next.
Adam: What’s your go-to order at Cracker Barrel?
Chloë: When I was vegetarian it was really hard; there’s ham in everything. Now I get the baked chicken and cucumber salad.
Adam: Kale isn’t any less delicious than it was a year ago, when you had that salad that you thought was great. Maybe people are a little over the overwhelming kale-ness of everything, but its still good. Why not eat it?
Chloë: It’s the highest in antioxidants! I’ll eat kale all day, every day. I make a mean kale chip. I hate kale haters! It’s a great crop! It’s easy to grow year-round, healthy, great in fiber…I’m not into the kale backlash.
Adam: If you love it, love it. Don’t be ashamed.
Chloë: I also love watercress. It’s my favorite green.
Adam: You’re the first person who’s ever said that.
Thoughts on pretentious food pronunciations, like “mootz-er-elle” for mozzarella?
Humberto: Yeah, I know people who are like, “Let’s have a burrrrrrito!” That makes me roll my eyes, at least in my head.
Adam: There’s pretentious, and then there’s incorrect. Some people do just so you to know they’re saying it correctly; they make a point of it. A lot of it is in the delivery. Chloë as an actress can tell you about that.
Chloë: I’m often embarrassed of my lack of knowledge! At a fancy restaurant, I don’t know how to pronounce, like, everything.
Now, let’s imagine that you three were to swap jobs…
Humberto: I’m jealous of Adam’s eating job.
Adam: We do eat every day! I could imagine being on camera more than I could imagine designing clothes. That would be extremely challenging.
Chloë: More so than the designing, owning a business seems so hard. So maybe I’d go for Adam’s job. It seems like more fun! You’re allocating, editing…
Adam: With creative pursuits, like fashion, yeah, you get to make cool clothes, but you also have to run a business, be profitable, and manage a staff.
Humberto: It’s a lot of worrying for a lot of people! But I do like it.
Chloë: I think I’ll stick with acting.