Thursday, May 3, 2012

Best Dressed Olympics

The Australian team uniform for the London Olympics was unveiled this morning, Dark green over crisp white, the Sportscraft-designed uniform looks clean, classy and even preppy. I can see a young Robert Redford and Mia Farrow off for a game of tennis – or cricket, or perhaps lawn bowls - in these uniforms, or something quite similar.
I can’t recall an Olympic year when there hasn’t been controversy about the uniforms for the Opening Ceremony – too colourful, not colourful enough, looks like a flight attendant’s uniform. It’s too relaxed or too corporate, or not Australian enough or too Australian. The uniforms revealed today aren’t the Opening Ceremony uniforms, though – they are secret squirrel business until we see the Aussies walking out into the arena during the ceremony.
The one objection I hear most often repeated it “what’s with the colours?”
Indeed. I’d hate to be choosing the colours and designing an Aussie Olympic uniform; it’s a no-win proposition. The Aussie flag is red, white and blue. The Aboriginal flag is red, yellow and black. Our sports colours are the colours of the wattle: silver-green leaves and canary yellow blossoms. The outback is ochre, the ocean is various moody blues, Oxford Street has a veritable rainbow of pinky shades at Mardi Gras time, sunset is apricot and mauve, and at night, in the bush, the sky is inkiest black.
In short, take your pick. In this wide brown land (did I forget brown?) you can choose any colour combination you can think of, and justify its inclusion in a national uniform.
In Beijing, the official uniforms were darkish grey and blue suits, probably more suited to a corporate office than a sporting team. That’s nothing new, though; traditionally, official Olympic uniforms have involved a coat and tie. It’s only been more recently that the fashion designers charged with designing the uniforms have broken away from the conservative traditions. The photo here of the 1980 Olympic Rowing Team could just about be a convention of Barber Shop Quartets from a century ago.
The pinnacle of non-traditional was the colourful cartoonish linings in the Reg Mombasa designed uniforms for the Sydney Olympics. They were magnificent – most things about the Sydney Olympics were.
Our uniforms in Beijing were about as far away from traditional as you can get, but failed spectacularly with the public: faux dip-dyed shiny blue tracksuits really don’t have much to do with anything Australian or Olympic, other than a desire to blend in with the Beijing Aquatic Centre.

This year, the return to traditional green-and-gold shouldn’t cause too many ructions, and with the athletes being involved in the design process, they should be happy too. Gone are the dress shoes and medium heels; in their place, white Volleys. Personally, I hate sports shoes with anything other than a sports uniform or a pair of jeans, but if I could get away with never wearing heels again, I would.

We're not the only country in the world with a sporting identity at odds with our official national flag, but you'd never see Canada out of the Red and White, or the USA or France out of their Red, White and Blue. China will always be red and yellow, but New Zealand is always identifiable by the black and white. Recently, Australia has been green and gold and blue and white and beige and ochre and brown.

On Friday 27th July, we’ll get to see what the Aussies will be wearing into the Opening Ceremony. I have a feeling that Green and Gold is back. Or possibly purple and orange. How about black with multi-coloured starbursts…? Just hope that it's better than this pyjamas-in-da-hood design (above) from Canada.

By the way, I missed purple, but I believe our Ladies Gymnastics teams wore shiny purple leotards once...

1 comment:

  1. Very nice uniforms. Lovely uniforms designed for Olympics.