The Genteel
April 21, 2021


The "Butt Hoodie". Source:

In a bold move out of left fieldOpening Ceremony has collaborated with 79-year-old musician, artist and activist, Yoko Ono. While Ono's career has seen her working in an avant-garde milieu for decades, the release of Fashions for Men 1969-2012 marks her first endeavour into fashion design. The result is an edgy, ready-to-wear collection that borders on sex shop joke merchandise.

Known primarily for her relationship with John Lennon from The Beatles, Ono based this collaborative effort around a series of drawings she gave to her late husband on their wedding day in 1969. As Ono recently told WWD, "So, I made this whole series with love for his hot bod and gave it to him as a wedding present. You can imagine how he went wild and fell in love with me even more."

Ono focuses heavily on the male erogenous zones - most intimately seen with the LED light-up jockstrap. The overall point of this design - in case you were wondering - is to light up the genitals in some sort of garish Christmas-inspired display of illuminated manhood. A superfluous bandeau bra for men draws attention to the nipples - in case you needed reminding of where they sit - and once again uses LED lighting to hammer the point home. In another tongue-in-cheek styling decision, the line's array of slacks are emblazoned with giant handprints over the crotch. All three designs serve as examples of ways in which Ono's eccentric collection seems better suited for a controversial PR stunt and stirring up animated conversation rather than for actually being worn.

The classic slacks are in line with the collection's posterior theme by featuring a mesh panel on the backside - showing off the rear goods to any unsuspecting tailgaters.

The most interesting aspect of the collection is its attempt at several (relatively) traditional pieces. From the front, the Cutout Jacket seems perfectly sensible - until one notices the cutouts on the sides for easy love handle access. Meanwhile, the Butt Hoodie is a run-of-the-mill pullover that could easily be mistaken for something produced by Nike; it may have a crude drawing of a posterior scribbled on the front, but an attempt at normality is there.

The collection's Cutout Trousers are a more drastic example of combining familiarity with bedroom deviance. The classic slacks are in line with the collection's posterior theme by featuring a mesh panel on the backside - showing off the rear goods to any unsuspecting tailgaters. If only they had snaps or buttons; we could be looking at the formal equivalent of drop seat pyjamas. 

A pink single-button blazer with one black sleeve is the most sensible of the lot notwithstanding the similarities with some of Tommy Lee Jones' wardrobe as Two-Face in 1995's Batman Forever. Yet the connection makes sense; Ono's kitschy take on '60s sexuality resembles Joel Schumacher's direction of the film which harkened back to the campy style of the 1960s Batman television series. The goofy approach of the show was so odd, similar to Fashions for Men's peculiar portrayal of the human body. Even the ridiculous cloud backdrop used for the product photos on Opening Ceremony's website seem sarcastic. The collection is topped off with a plastic neck plaque adorned with two hotel desk bells, complete with the written phrase, "RING YOUR MOMMY PIECE y.o. 69-12." 

With so many unwearable pieces, why would a burgeoning brand like Opening Ceremony want to release it? In an interview with Spin magazine, co-founder of Opening Ceremony, Humberto Leon, seems to suggest that it was a snap decision. After Ono showed Leon the drawings, he excitedly responded, "let's make these." In the same interview, Leon explained that the reason behind the bold collaboration, at least in part, was that Opening Ceremony "love[s] celebrating authentic culture." While Ono was a part of every design and fitting, what culture is really coming across here? The boudoir culture of two musical activist icons? 


After the nude cover of Lennon and Ono's Two Virgins album and their highly publicised Bed-In for Peace, it's not surprising that Lennon and Ono's relationship is the inspiration behind this collection. The couple cleverly developed their personas around sex, the bedroom, and hippy philosophies in such a way that had the press and public enamoured. And, in a way, the performance art publicity of the Bed-In continues within Fashions for Men. Just as remaining in bed for a week portrayed their protest of war, individual pieces from the line may be taken as representing their stance on masculine sexuality. 

The problem is that Ono's "hot bod" reasoning for the line quickly dissipates attempts at trying to discover a deeper meaning. Had she left her intentions a little more vague, the theorist in me may not have come away so disillusioned. Fashions for Men is so far from wearable that it can really only be taken as an art project that happens to be clothing. With such a simple and lacklustre reasoning behind the project, it's hard to take it as anything more.

While a blip in history such as a limited release clothing collection won't damage the legacy of John Lennon, fans of The Beatles and Lennon may be breathing a sigh of relief that its Ono's name in the spotlight for this endeavour. After years of fans believing she was the one who broke up The Beatles, using his name for such a project isn't doing her reputation with the Beatle-mania crowd any favours.



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