Fashion Olympics: Big designers behind games kits

Associated Press Modified: July 28, 2012 at 10:32 am •  Published: July 28, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — Who said sportswear can't be chic?

The athletes' parade during Friday's opening ceremony might as well have been a catwalk show, with some of fashion's biggest names — Armani, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney — designing the team uniforms.

Many in the fashion industry are already calling this the most stylish Olympics ever.

The Italians must be some of the best-dressed athletes, scoring points with an understated monochrome kit in navy and white by Giorgio Armani, as well as waterproof blue designs for their sailing team by Prada.

Stella McCartney has worked with Adidas to design the sporting gear and "Village wear" (read loungewear) for Britain's home team, though the outfits weren't on show Friday as athletes covered up in white and gold tracksuits. McCartney's gear takes inspiration from the iconic Union flag, but she said she deconstructed it to make it "more delicate and feminine." Look out for them on the track and at the pool: Red is sparingly used to highlight a palette that mostly features white and shades of blue — turquoise, navy, cobalt.

Meanwhile, the American team may have gotten a barrage of bad press for its made in China Ralph Lauren uniforms, but the preppy designs were still some of the most stylish in the arena: clean-cut navy blazers, crisp white trousers, skirts, and shoes, accessorized with navy berets and blue, red and white striped scarves.

The Jamaican team is in the spotlight because of sprinter Usain Bolt, so it's fitting that it also got a boost in the fashion stakes this year. Their kit, which feature the national colors as well as lightning-like prints, were designed by Cedella Marley, daughter of legendary singer Bob Marley, for Puma. The styles were modeled by a flamboyantly dancing Bolt at a London catwalk recently.

"Cedella Marley brings island color to team Jamaica — a sea of tropical yellow, green and black," said Avril Graham, Harper's Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor, on Friday.

Other designers behind the Olympics this year include luxury label Hermes, which has designed riding jackets for the French equestrian team, and Salvatore Ferragamo, which designed the official uniform for the tiny European republic of San Marino.