Our Fall ’17 runway show featured models and the best stunt women on the planet. Oh, and one giant battle orchestrated by Kill Bill’s Zoë Bell.
I can’t really remember the last time I was punched in the face. Which I guess in retrospect—makes a whole lot of sense. It was probably by a friend of mine, who was re-enacting something he saw on TV. Wait, I remember what happened. A Stone Cold Stunner was performed on me, you know that move? It’s Steve Austin’s (The Texas Rattle Snake) WWE finishing move. I’m not here to debate if wrestling is real or fake but both parties involved in the Stunner, usually end with illustrious careers. A mother’s warning rings through my head, accidents are going to happen when you goof off.
Well, not on Zoë Bell’s set. If you’re goofing off, you can go home. It’s the safety, teamwork, and communication that eliminates the fear and actually make insane stunts—fun (which I’m still wrapping my head around). Zoë Bell is famous for stunt doubling for Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill series, Death Proof, the Tarantino films goes on.
For Opening Ceremony’s Fall ‘17 fashion show co-produced with MADE LA, we brought fashion to OC’s co-founders home for the first time. Wanting the show to be a love letter to LA, with a collection inspired by Southwestern landscapes, we thought: what’s more LA than the cinema? Inspired by old-school martial arts films and its influence in western culture, we enlisted leading lady Zoë Bell to bring this dream to life. What did she do? Brought together some of the most talented and badass (and busiest) women in Hollywood, for a showdown (not a cat fight) on the catwalk . These warrior women trained for weeks at 87eleven Action Design, for a battle reminiscent of West Side Story’s brawl (minus the finger snaps), with an added ingredients of old Hollywood sets, celluloid dreams, Bō staffs, nunchucks, Wushu, Ninja Warriors, Iron fists, and pure adrenaline. Last Friday, all the silver-screen’s outlaws were under one roof, on one runway, bringing the adventure to life, set to a live score composed by The RZA.
Ahead of the show, we interview Zoë to get the scoop on her origins (cue Kung fu movie music), being a woman in the stunt industry, and why she was pumped to work it on the runway. And for the Kung Fu junkies, view the twenty one flicks of stunt women (and one all around amazing man) Olivia Brown, Jessie Graff, Thekla Hutyrova, Li Jing, Amy Johnston, Lauren Kim, Megan Le, Jade Quon, Hayley Wright, Shane Yan, and Zoë Bell in action.
What was your initial draw to the stunt business? Did you always know you wanted to be in it or was it something you fell into?(pun intended)
Everyone's got really different stories, especially here in America, but particularly in L.A., people grow up with the knowledge that a stuntman is a job. Where as for me, when I grew up, stuntman and daredevil were synonymous, they were the same thing. It never occurred to me that people made movies, I thought they just arrived at my video store as a kid. So it never occurred to me it was an industry or it was created by people, or I could want to be a ... cameraman. Actors you know about. Stunt people, I just really didn't know about. Here [L.A.] People grow up wanting to be one. When I was in high school, the things I liked were the subjects I did well at. I loved P.E., photography, and english. There's no career that anyone I knew was talking about, where those three things supported each other, let alone—combined to make a career. And when I turned up in the film industry, I was like "well what do you know?" this is exactly where those three things put me.
What was your reaction when OC reached out about choreographing a fashion show?
First of all, I was flattered. I love that they liked the idea of it being a woman that was in charge. I saw it as a real possibility, because I've always had a thing for fashion, but fashion is not my world. But I've always found a slight frustration around the women that are representing fashion. Because then I have to re-imagine it, as to what it's going to look like on me. I feel I'm more likely going to be the shape of people that clothes are being sold to. And you have all those beliefs as a feminist, that we shouldn't all have to be skinny—to be beautiful. I kept that in mind when I first started talking to Bettina [Chin] about the show. I was like look, stunt women are not all shaped like models. We have some that are tall and slender. Most of them are shorter. I'm one of the taller ones, it's just easier to maneuver faster if you’re short. A lot of them are stocky, because they used to be gymnasts. We have to be stronger than a lot of the actresses were doubling for. So when I was talking to Bettina, about if we could mix and match stunt women in the show, she was all for it.