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Friday, January 24, 2014

Olympics Fashion Revealed — And Reviled?

The Ralph Lauren outfits for the Olympic athletes include brightly colored cardigans, white fleece pants and leather boots. (Ralph Lauren)American Olympic ice hockey player Julie Chu. (Ralph Lauren)American Olympic ice hockey player Zach Parise. (Ralph Lauren)American Olympic ice hockey player Zach Parise. (Ralph Lauren)

Sochi is only two weeks away, and now we know exactly what the athletes will be wearing — brightly colored knit cardigans, white fleece athletic pants and bright leather boots with red laces.

And yes, it’s all made in the USA, designed by iconic American designer Ralph Lauren.

André Leon Talley, contributing editor for Vogue magazine and editor-at-large of Russian style magazine Numero Russia, joins Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson with his take on the outfits.

Interview Highlights: André Leon Talley

On the function of an Olympic uniform

“First, they must be practical when they are performing or competing for the gold, the silver, the bronze medal. And when they’re in the ceremonial mode, as in this great body of people walking in the great big ceremony, which is always very exciting to see on television, it’s important that someone has thought about a pattern, color mixes, and the way the thing is going to look in a group of people. And this is going to make some sort of, I think, almost pixelated pattern. If you’re sitting up in the bleachers in, like, row Z, you’re going to know that this is the American team, and it’s going to look quite, quite extraordinary.”

What the Russians will think of the uniforms

“I think they might have some what you might call pithy comments. Let’s wait and see what the Russians have, because, you know, the Russians are also very much involved with style and style notes. So I have not seen the Russian uniforms, but they will have pithy comments. I mean, if Americans are already saying it’s a cross between a Christmas sweater and something from the mall, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, I can just imagine.”

His take on the Ralph Lauren design

“I love the pattern, and I love the innate American heritage that Ralph has fused into the design of these sweaters. And I find it very youthful. Look, it’s the Winter Olympics. Color is extraordinary. Color is always a very positive thing in a design.”

“It’s a moment to celebrate excellence, it’s a moment to celebrate the country, and I think Ralph Lauren has done an extraordinary and exciting job. And you know what? I would wear it myself!”


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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