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58 OLYMPIC REVIEW OLYMPIC FASHIONLooking the partWith a host of world-class designers creating the official team kits and uniforms, London 2012 looks set to be one of the most stylish Games yet, as Joanna Hunter discoversWith the eyes of the world upon it, you could forgive an Olympic host city for indulging in a little peacocking every now and again. And, despite having a couple of Olympic Games already under its belt, London appears to be no exception. Grand new stadiums and athletic feats aside, there is another arena in which London 2012 is determined to shine: the world of fashion. In March 2012, at the Tower of London, designer Stella McCartney and Adidas, Official Sportswear Provider of Team GB, unveiled their latest collaboration: the official kit. Modelled by over 30 athletes, including heptathlete Jessica Ennis and triple jumper Phillips Idowu, McCartney's creations combine what is claimed to be the best in performance technologies with a contemporary design echoing the British Union flag. While her models declared

OLYMPIC REVIEW 59OLYMPIC FASHIONthemselves happy with their new get-up, Stella's designs have - perhaps inevitably - invited controversy, largely due to a perceived lack of red, one of the flag's three main colours (the others being white and blue). "I see many feel as strongly about the Union flag as I do!" the designer tweeted in response. "The design actually uses more red and shows more flag than any Team GB kit since 1984."Controversial or not, you can be sure that Team GB's kit faces stiff competition: Ralph Lauren launched Team USA's Olympic village collection - garnished with trademark ponies and a retro logo from the London 1948 games - in February this year, and fashion onlookers will be equally intrigued to see what Giorgio Armani has in store for the Italian Olympic team. Make no mistake: this summer, fashion is making its claim on the sporting arena.Legend has it that ancient Olympians wouldn't have bothered with clothing at all, of course, but what would Pierre de Coubertin have made of this focus on finery? Haute Couture aside, he was, it seems, broadly speaking, all for it. Coubertin contributed a number of short articles on this very topic - including hygiene, special sports clothing and the psychology of sports dress - to the Olympic Review of 1908."For him [Coubertin], the very appearance of sports dress alone brings about a preliminary stage of a "redressement interne" (straightening up inside)," Walter Borgers, also writing in the Olympic Review in 1993, observed. "For which," Borgers went on to add in an aside that would no doubt hearten the beleaguered Stella McCartney, "he believed, the English had a particular feel."Nor, Borgers maintains, was Coubertin breaking new ground. The issue of suitable attire had already been touched upon at the Olympic Congress in Le Havre, and was a topic of debate in Körperkultur, a magazine termed the "official organ of the German Imperial Committee for Olympic Games". The December 1907 issue warned that "sloppy, unflattering, unprepossessing costumes are distinctly unsuitable for inspiring or maintaining vigour and ardour".In light of the 2012 Games' fashion focus, it is perhaps fitting that it was the first opening parade, held in London in 1908, which brought the athletes' sporting attire fully into the public eye. Competitors were requested to wear sports dress, which meant that all manner of costumes were represented, from gymnastics to fencing. By 1912, this had already evolved into more formal outfits: some nations stuck to their kit, but others had upped their sartorial game: the Americans wore white jackets and boater hats, the French sported sweaters, and the German team were bedecked in dark blue suits; one ? Above A hop, a step and a jump in the right direction for triple jumper Phillips Idowu and Team GB, from 1984 (far left) to 2012 (far right)