Monday, August 6, 2012

Top 10 fashion trends at the London 2012 Olympics

Form follows function, right? Yes and no when it comes to the London 2012 Olympics, where the apparel and accoutrements are a mix of stuff that makes you fast, stuff that keeps flies out of your ears - and stuff that gets you noticed. Here are frockwriter's picks for the top trends of Week One.  

Nail art is a major global trend and at the London 2012 Olympics it became the new temporary flag tattoo for female athletes wanting to show their national pride. From the mini Union Jacks sported by Team GB's Rebecca Adlington to Missy Franklin's stars and stripes and across a wide spectrum of sports, including swimming, cycling and archery, there hasn't been so much fancy hand action at the Games since the terrifying talons of Florence Griffith Joyner at Seoul in 1988. The installation of a pop-up Nail Porn salon offering 200 different designs inside the Olympic Village – a joint venture between celebrity nail artiste Sophy Robson and P&G – certainly did not hurt things.

Usain Bolt's 100m victory on Sunday prompted a deluge of Tweets noting that Bolt managed to win gold while wearing a necklace - contrary to PE etiquette at most schools. But Bolt was by no means alone. This could well be the Bling Games with, it seems, more Olympic athletes sporting more jewellery in competition than ever before. And the bling is not just limited to lucky necklaces, massive pearl earrings and body piercings. Team USA's DeeDee Trotter incorporated Swarovski crystals into her signature face painting on Sunday to take bronze in the women's 400m. She notes, "They call me the glitter-faced warrior".

Arguably the ne plus ultra of the London 2012 jewellery trend was the gangsta diamond and ruby mouth "grill" sported by Team USA's star swimmer Ryan Lochte. Although banned from wearing the grill on the medal dias, Lochte later nevertheless whipped it out for photoshoots. Designed by Houston rapper Paul Wall and reportedly worth USD 25,000, it's one of four grills owned by Lochte, who has apparently been wearing same at meets since as far back as the 2007. Perhaps he could hock a few of them to help out his folks who, it emerged on Saturday, face losing their Florida home after falling almost a quarter of a million dollars behind on the mortgage.

Patented by Rommie Revson in 1986 for many, the humble, horrible scrunchie is yet another reminder of best-forgotten 1980s fashion felonies. But for Olympic gymnasts, it seems, the trend never went away. Judging by the scrunchie proliferation in London, moreover, it seems to be being embraced with fervour by a new generation of tumblers - and, indeed, Tumblrs, with an Olympics Scrunchies Tumblr even dedicated to the phenom. And they're not just scrunchies on show in London, they are metallic scrunchies. Combined with all the hair glitter and diamanté-encrusted barrettes at the gymnastics venue, it's just another dimension to the 2012 Bling Games.

We have lost count of the number of times we have spotted the question "Is that horse wearing a hat?" on Twitter. The answer - no, they're wearing Ear Bonnets. Also known as Fly Bonnets: crocheted cotton caps that were originally designed to keep flies out of horses' ears during competition. They are now also used to keep cotton wool firmly entrenched in the ears, in a bid to muffle sound at loud venues. While seen for some time in show jumping and cross country events, the ear bonnet is, according to Equestrian Australia, a relatively recent addition to the dressage arena - and may be used there only after seeking permission from the local Ground Jury. No Australian horses are wearing ear bonnets in the dressage events in London and we must say, the event has been the poorer for it. So far, there is no sign of any swish stars n' stripes, camo or Swarovski-encrusted versions. But surely it's only a matter of time - as My Little Pony fans could attest, horses like glitter too.

The unitard has made news this Olympics primarily because of Tunisia's Ghada Hassine, who became the first Olympic weightlifter to compete in a newly-approved, fully body version, after rules requiring weightlifters to wear a garment that bares their arms and legs were changed last year. But it's hard not to notice the preponderance of male athletes who have taken to the body-hugging garment with gusto at these Games - while many of their international peers prefer the traditional and of course far less potentially risqué, loose shorts-and-singlet option. As Swedish heptathlete Bjorn Barrefors may well wish he had adopted before an image of a unitard-clad Barrefors and his impressive bulge went viral over the past week. On closer inspection, it's a file shot - Barrefors does not appear to even be on Sweden's London 2012 team.

Reportedly, the fashion-forward members of the audience at the Olympic velodrome venue screamed "McQueen visor!" as Team GB emerged for the first time in their new competition helmets, which boast massive silver visors. Neither Sarah Burton nor the late Alexander McQueen were involved in the design. UK firm Crux Product Design takes those honours for these smart aluminium honeycomb, polycarbonate and iridium helmets, which were commissioned by UK Sport and British Cycling back in 2009. Team GB are by no means the only cyclists to be sporting fabulous, futuristic headgear. The Swedes are wearing a striking neon orange and black helmet designed by POC Tempor that looks like it's straight out of Star Wars. Here are a few of the others.

Even though Stella McCartney has come under fire that the uniforms are "too blue", we are giving the silver medal for performance and podium attire to Adidas for its collaboration with McCartney on the Team GB kit. Which just goes to show that it would have been possible for Adidas to come up with something a little more impressive than the limp green and gold tracksuits with an amateurish kangaroo sleeve stencil that it handed the Australian team. One designer we spoke to last week described the Australian suits as an "embarrassment". Sure, McCartney already does a line with Adidas and they had a relationship. But we can't see why Adidas could not have attempted a one-off collab with an up-and-coming Australian designer such as Josh Goot or Dion Lee just for our local version. Food for thought perhaps for 2016. Great to see Britain's home team powering ahead at these Games. Of particular note, the belted women's podium jacket which we will wager eventually gets released to the general public and/or makes it to McCartney's Spring/Summer 2013 collection in Paris next month.

Frockwriter is giving Team USA a gold medal for the best podium attire. And it's not just because the yanks have been up on the medial dias so many times. So have the Chinese, whose uniform isn't quite so unforgettable. Team USA's Nike "Medal Stand" kit looks like it's straight off a lunar mission. It includes the smart 21st C. Windrunner jacket, the Nike Bowerman Tech Pant and a pair of Nike Flyknit Trainers [see #10 below]. The jacket - which includes flag badges and on the back, "United States of America" laser lettering and 50 perforation vents, one for each state - is made from a highly reflective 3M material that looks grey to the naked eye, but illuminates under bright lights. Inside the jacket, over the heart, is a second badge that reads "Team USA". Sweet. 

The fastest man in the world was wearing Puma when he won the 100m sprint, however all eyes in the stadium have been on Nike's neon yellow kicks. Which is hugely ironic, given that Nike is not an official Olympic sponsor. Adidas paid a reported USD 155million to be the event's official sportswear partner but as shoes are classified as equipment, athletes are free to choose their own brand. The footwear component of Team USA's podium attire is a pair of Nike Flyknit Trainers in an unmissable and very on trend fluoro yellow colour that Nike has dubbed "Volt". That style, together with a Nike Flyknit Racer, was released on July 27th and by all accounts has been selling out in the US and Australia. Then on August 3rd, Nike unveiled the complete "Volt" collection – an entire arsenal of neon yellow shoes for the track, field and road events. There are 18 designs, including the Nike Zoom Superfly R4, the Nike Lunarspider R3 and two pairs of womens' high-performance women's track spikes done in collaboration with the iconic British brand Liberty, using its 1960s 'Mirabelle' print. The Nike Zoom Victory Elite x Liberty track spike was designed for the 1500 metre event and a limited edition run of 50 pairs is available for purchase from Liberty in London. The Nike Zoom JA Fly x Liberty was created exclusively for the Nike-sponsored female sprinters and, like many of the other shoes in the Volt collection, is not at this stage available at retail anywhere according to Nike Australia.


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