It’s twisted genius to serve fried food Instabait to a room full of sleep-deprived, hungry, cranky fashion people at your first-ever fashion show. But that’s exactly what Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony did at their much Instagrammed, lauded, luxury car drag race-cum-fashion show last week, by placing Cronuts™ in every goodie bag. It’s exactly that subversiveness that is Opening Ceremony’s signature.
Despite it being fried and not a suggested food component of a juice cleanse, fashion people were surprisingly more enthused than we expected about the croissant/donut cream-filled hybrid’s surprise appearance (it’s dusted with powdered sugar and glazed, by the way). The Misshapes, via Leigh Lezark, called it “Best.Idea.Ever.” Street style photographer Tommy Ton proclaimed himself “forever grateful to Opening Ceremony” for the opportunity to finally try “A real one!” Perhaps it’s because Cronut lines are still upwards of four hours, sell out every day, and if it’s one thing fashion people love, it’s an exclusive.
We got a chance to speak with baker Dominique Ansel about being fashion’s newest accessory, how the Cronut x Opening Ceremony collaboration came to be, those Cronut knock-offs aka Faux-nuts served to Victoria Beckham, and that time Heidi Klum waited two weeks for a Cronut.
So a Cronut in every Opening Ceremony gift bag! Tell us about how that came to be.
It was discussion that started months ago. The Opening Ceremony offices are close by and they reached out to let us know they were fans of the bakery. When Fashion Week rolled out, we originally planned to do a quick pop-up launching our fall item, the Magic Soufflé [Editor’s Note: A Grand Marnier chocolate soufflé encased inside orange blossom brioche. And yes, it was sold out too, when I went last weekend. Sigh.] at their market place on Pier 57.
Then as we got talking, we decided to also incorporate something into the show. The signature tulip box that houses the Cronut looks almost like a small clutch bag, and so a light bulb went on and we thought the Cronut would be perfect gift bag idea.
Did you get to see the fashion people enjoying their Cronut?
I was supposed to go to the show, but alas, I’m just a pastry chef and I had a very unglamorous 3am wake up call for the next morning. So I had to miss it. I heard it was glorious though. I’ve always liked Opening Ceremony’s eclectic style–their stores are little treasure chests of inspiration.
You’re known for keeping demand limited and only making 200 Cronuts a day. How many extra did you have to produce for the show?
We did 100 Cronuts and 100 DKA’s [a type of caramelized croissant/brioche] for the show and over 800 golden madeleines. It was a very busy day in the kitchen.
Did it surprise you that Carol and Humberto wanted to serve a fried dessert to a room full of fashion people?
Nope, fashionistas love the Cronut. We have a lot of designer fans, including Peter Som, who bakes at home. Rebecca Minkoff and Bryan Boy have both been seen with Cronuts.
I remember when Heidi Klum’s team called out weeks and weeks in advance for Heidi’s Cronuts. We do a pre-order system for Cronuts and members from her company were very vigilant about calling in (our phones are busy for hours), and they finally got through to us. And then they waited the two weeks before getting their order. Pre-orders are available for everyone, but they are just very hard to get and take a lot of redialing.
We noticed that you called out Victoria Beckham for enjoying Faux-nuts on Twitter! How did you feel when you saw she was experiencing a Faux-nut and not the Cronut?
(Laughs) Well, I wasn’t trying to call anyone out really. Someone told me Victoria Beckham was tricked into buying a knockoff, and I was shocked! So I was trying to find out what happened.
From a business standpoint, we have to set the record straight though. You see, we were partners with Opening Ceremony for fashion week and promised to exclusively offer the Cronut just for their show, so it’s important that we let people know those were not our Cronut.
You know knock-offs are a big problem in the fashion industry and it seems like you’re encountering the same thing in the pastry world. How do you feel about faux-nuts?
I know! Knockoff pastries — how insane! It’s one thing to provide inspiration, which I’m really flattered by. But it’s another when people try to confuse your customers into thinking it’s the same product. I wouldn’t want the experience of a poorly made faux-nut to hurt the reputation of the Cronut just like a designer wouldn’t want to see their logo slapped upon a poorly made dress.
Model Kate Moss has a famous quote that, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” How would you rate the taste of a Cronut in relation to her quote?
(Laughs) I’m a pretty skinny guy, and I eat a Cronut a day (for quality control purposes). I feel fine.