Fashion Gold

Ermanno Scervino, who shows at Milan Fashion week, designed the Olympic uniforms for the Azerbaijan Republic. Will this collaboration put both designer and country on the map?

I could care less about the Olympics. Call me un-American or a poor sport, but I tend to cringe at the World’s sudden patriotic passion for super-jocks and all of that forced togetherness over athletes.

And plus, for these two long weeks, they take over all of my media outlets.

No matter where I turn I am assaulted with Facebook posts and Tweets and magazine covers and endless TV coverage preempting everything. In a desperate move to escape the onslaught, I punch in MSNBC on my remote to see what Rachel Maddow has to say about Romney only to be greeted by Bob Costas nattering on about some Olympic athlete beating the odds in their quest for a medal. I move fast to channel 48 and my beloved Bravo only to be served Olympic volleyball instead of the Real Housewives of New York volleying insults.

Are you kidding? But then I remember that NBC, who has the rights to the Olympics this year, owns both MSNBC and Bravo.

To me, the most interesting thing about the Olympics has been the PR nightmare facing Ralph Lauren for outfitting the U.S. team in uniforms made in China. Oh the irony.

I guess I never really thought about the Olympics/Fashion connection until now. But it all makes such image, awareness and financial sense for designers to outfit the young and fit men and women taking over the Global catwalk as they spring, sprint, swim, spin and soar across our every screen.

Big fashion names like Armani, Prada, Hermes, Ferragamo, and Stella McCartney are designing team uniforms, or “Kits” as they’re called. It’s one thing for athletic companies like Nike and Adidas to sponsor and design team unis, but as Avril Graham, Harper’s Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor explains, “For any designer, this is the biggest audience you can possibly have for your designs and arguably the most critical.”

The “uniform” provides a variety of apparel and accessory options: jackets, warm-up suits, shorts, tops, shoes, hats and the like, adhering to the color palate of the national flag. But designers being artists and therefore rules averse, some went rogue. The Germans marched into the opening ceremony wearing hot pink jackets (women) and cornflower blue (men) designed by Bogner, fluorescent colors definitely not found in the German flag.

German Olympic team uniforms by Bogner.Designers not outfitting teams found other ways to take advantage of the Global spotlight by launching Olympic-themed collections: Karl Lagerfeld launched “Team Karl” at Selfridge’s in London, even though he admitted he won’t actually watch any Olympic coverage. H&M is also launching two pop-up stores dedicated to selling sportswear in London.

So while I stand by my indifference to the Olympics, I’m quite captivated by the winning and losing fashions (team Spain – read here for hilarious commentary) that outfit the contenders. Who cares what happens in the 100 meter sprint. Just remember to check out Usian Bolt’s fly outfit, designed by Bob Marley’s grand-daughter Cedella Marley, while he’s in the blocks before it’s all a blur.

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