Olympic Fashion: a country by country critique (some of them, anyway)
Canadians have been pretty hard on our country's Olympic fashion choices this year, and this blog roundup of international media critiques shows other countries are equally self-deprecating. Perhaps it's because making fun of your own country is less likely to start a war, a riot, or worse--an international, Zoolander-esque, Olympic walk-off. Actually, come to think of it, I'd love to see that.
The US went all 'new money' this year and sported a massive Ralph Lauren crest for some reason:
PARADE OF SLOVENLINESS If you thought Americans were talking a lot about the size of the Ralph Lauren logo on the U.S. Olympians’ outfits as they entered the Bird’s Nest during the opening ceremony in Beijing on Friday, it’s nothing compared with what people in other countries are saying about their respective teams’ clothes, demeanor and general appearance.
Take the Khaleej Times, which pilloried India’s “shoddily dressed contingent” for walking in “unceremoniously not only making ‘mockery’ of the spirit of Olympics, but also put in the picture the infamous slapdash (chalta-hai) attitude in an international gathering.” Millions of Indians, Ravi S. Jha wrote, “glued on TV sets watched the home contingent walking uncaringly with the Tricolour.”
It wasn’t just the Khaleej Times that was upset about the team’s dress. The national paper The Hindu reports that the Indian media on hand in Beijing “cornered the president of the Indian Olympic Association, Suresh Kalmadi” to ask why the tennis players were wearing track suits rather than saris. “The two had returned from their practice and there was no time,” Kalmadi said.
The style section in Canada’s National Post, in its helpful “Olympics of Fashion” rundown of notable outfits, praised India’s togs for their “regal gold and red scarves,” (though the accompanying photo shows a little of the chalta-hai attitude the Indians were complaining about). Also in for praise: “Uzbekistan’s Lurex-flecked ties and metallic fabric panels folded into the female athletes’ skirts,” “Indonesia’s silk jacquard trim and overskirts enlivening the gravitas of their black-on-black ensembles” and “the Guatemalan ladies who flashed tanned, toned flesh in embroidered peasant blouses worn off the shoulder,” not to mention many other countries.
The Globe and Mail’s William Houston, meanwhile, lamented the Canadian Olympic Committee’s decision to dress its athletes in “down market duds,” although the Vancouver Sun thought they “weren’t that bad.”
In Australia, a full-fledged culture war seems to have broken out over the Oz uniforms, with critics saying the outfits looked sloppy, besides being blue and silver rather than the traditional green and gold. Aussies thought the togs looked like “sucked iceblocks,” The Herald Sun of Melbourne reports.
That kind of talk prompted a defensive reaction from Oz officials. “Every time we wear green and gold people say, ‘Why are we wearing green and gold?’,” Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred told the Perth Sun. “The athletes loved it. It’s not for old fogies.” Tancred added that softballer Melanie Roche, presumably a young and happening person, even told him the uniforms were “hip.'’
No defense yet from Malaysian Olympic officials over the harsh assessment of that team’s orange uniforms, meant to recall the Malaysian tiger, from the Kuala Lumpur magazine KLue. “MALAYSIA!! omg what were you wearing. I cringed. Truly, I did!!”