One week after the start of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Czech team has won one gold and one bronze medal and are hoping more will follow before the games are over. But it seems that the Czechs have also impressed in one unofficial contest – fashion.
When the largest ever Czech Winter Olympic team walked into the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver during the opening ceremony last week, they certainly stood out among the 82 nations taking part in the 21st Winter Olympics. What caught the attention of many viewers around the world was perhaps not the Czech team’s flag bearer, hockey star Jaromír Jágr, but rather the athletes’ outfits. The newspaper Vancouver Sun later reported that the red and blue camouflage outfit brought on instant migraines. But the Czech team’s attire was soon leading an online “best outfit” poll on the news website Huffington Post.
The designer of the Winter Olympic collection, Lucie Kuříková from the Czech firm Alpine Pro, says she wanted the outfit to stand out.
“I definitely wanted people to see at first glance that we are Czechs, and I think I succeeded. When you look into the crowd and see a Czech athlete, they can’t be mistaken for another nationality. I also wanted the outfit to look victorious and passionate, to be playful and clever.”
The official uniform consists of a white ski jacket and patterned trousers. The pattern is composed of geometrical shapes in the Czech national colours – red, blue and white. It has been described as an eyesore, confusing and intense.
However, some comments on the Huffington Post website described it as the ‘awesomest’ and sick-ass, and even something Will Smith could wear in the Fresh Prince of Bell-Air. Rachel Kanarowski is the editor of the Czech version of In-Style fashion magazine.
“Well, I think [the designer] certainly evoked a lot of excitement, in the pattern and in the reaction from the Czech people, but I’m not sure how the designer can evoke “winning” in a particular pattern. I think that a lot of the teams go for very classic pattern, maybe something like 1970s and 80s athletic uniforms, especially for the summer Olympics. For the winter Olympics, I feel like you really have more latitude to try something different and new and maybe a little bit younger. And the uniform certainly is very young in its look.”
In the Olympic medal table, the Czech Republic is ranking 13th with one gold and one bronze. While fans back home hope some more medals – particularly in hockey – are still to come, Kanarowski says the Czech team’s uniforms have already scored very high.
“Good fashion always provokes a lot of conversation, whether or not it’s couture walking on the runway in Paris, or if it’s the official uniform for the Winter Olympics. And I think it’s wonderful that this uniform is provoking so much conversation. If it’s leading on the Huffington Post, that means that people internationally are loving the uniform. And that’s a great thing for the designer.”