January 27, 2014

Mixing sports with style: Athletes suit up for 2014 Olympics

The opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games promises to be visually inspiring, with a colorful fashion display of Olympic uniforms. One-of-a-kind outfits are expected for each new Olympics, thus presenting a unique set of challenges for designers.

Several uniforms in particular are expected to make a splash. For example, the Norwegian curling team is to show off their zigzag printed costumes of bright red, white, and blue – colors which represent their country’s flag. Their Sochi 2014 suits were unveiled in late January.

The official German Olympic uniform has caused a stir in the media. Many have speculated that the rainbow-colored jackets are a silent protest against Russia’s gay propaganda law. Officials explained that there was no political motive behind the design.

The color palette reflects “the Sochi landscapes” - turquoise for the waters of the Black Sea, yellow for the sun and sand, green for palm trees, and white for snow in the Caucasus mountains, said a press release by the German Olympic Committee.

German designer Willy Bogner, who worked in cooperation with Adidas and shoe company Sioux, said that they were “homage to the aesthetics of the 1972 Munich Summer Games,” according to Der Spiegel.

German athletes Benedikt Mayr (L) and Andrea Rothfuss put on their caps during the official display of their uniforms of the German Olympic team for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Duesseldorf October 1, 2013. (Reuters / Ina Fassbender)

The US team will be clothed by celebrated American designer Ralph Lauren. His star-printed Olympic collection was revealed on Thursday.

US social media immediately reacted to the design, with many calling the uniform a “holiday ugly sweater.” The criticisms ranged from "hideously ugly" to "looks like Ralph Lauren threw up America."

Canada's skeleton sliders recently showed off their new custom helmets, which certainly suit the name of the Olympic sport.

Skeleton rider Sarah Reid praised artist and goalie Jason Bartziokas for the helmet design on Team Canada's official Olympics page.

“I had wanted to get my helmet painted for quite a while and originally wanted an image that I found off the internet of a girl’s face that was half normal, half skull...I told [Bartziokas] that what I liked about the other image was the fact that it was kind of feminine, but still kind of scary and deadly looking. He recommended I look up ‘day of the dead’ images on the internet, and when I found one I liked I sent it along to him.”

Models display Russia's uniform for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics during a presentation in Moscow December 26, 2013. (Reuters / Sergei Karpukhin)

The Russian uniform, which includes patriotic bright colors, was developed by fashion house Bosco di Ciliegi. At the official events in Sochi, female athletes will appear in burgundy jackets and male athletes in blue ones. At the opening ceremony, the team will be dressed in full uniform: men in blue coats trimmed with sheepskin, and women in fur coats in the colors of the Russian flag. Some have criticized the women’s outfits, saying the coats look like something Snegurochka - Father Christmas’s granddaughter, according to Russian folk tradition – would wear.

The opening ceremony will be held on February 7. The end of the games and the closing ceremony will take place on February 23.

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