Welcome to Rio! We love the Olympic opening ceremonies as it’s like the world’s biggest runway. The London 2012 organizing understood that and sent out Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Karen Elson and many others onto the closing ceremonies stage with David Bowie’s “Fashion” blaring in the background. There’s just one supermodel on this year, and it feels fitting for her to stomp us into this recap like she strutted out to officially commence the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Behold, resplendent in heels and a throwback 70s silver gown from Bianca Jagger’s closet: GISELE BUNDCHEN.
Yes, it’s her last catwalk ever, it’s in her home country and it’s set to the strains of the most famous pop song from Brazil ever, “The Girl From Ipanema”. That runway is 500 meters long, and not even Victoria Beckham got that in London because she had to be part of a Spice Girls reunion and didn’t walk. If I were there, I’d have mistakenly thought it was time to go home. But they sent her first because although the athletes had to share the stage, Giselle got the entire freaking stadium all to herself. Small complaint: why silver when you could reflect your country’s Olympic ambition by showing up in gold? (Or would that be too much like Meryl Streep’s 2012 Oscar dress?)
Enough of the opening act, bring on the headliners!
I can’t help but think the green-and-silver motif means they’ve been sorted into Slytherin House. Shoes by Toms, but not Tom Riddle AKA Voldemort. j/k they look great.
Look everyone, Neil Patrick Harris is competing! No, not really (he’s in Vancouver right now filming and he was in the Pride Parade last weekend), but this guy is clearly his long lost Belarusian twin.
The ladies are dressed like air hostesses and the men appear to represent all the referees for the entire Rio 2016 games. Points for dedication to sticking with the colours of the flag. Sidenote: I’ve seen actual tour group delegations of Chinese tourists dressed exactly like this. However, they are dressed for efficiency because if anyone ever got lost, they’d be easy to find.
Normally appearing in Roots or Hudson’s Bay (that’s Lord & Taylor’s parent corporation for you American readers), this year they went with an edgier designer and chose DSquared2, a homegrown success story. I wasn’t initially keen on the fit but then realized that this is part of the DSquared2 aesthetic, with just a hint of Issey Miyake in its minimalist chic. They’re definitely dressed for comfort as apparently it was still 80 degrees at night in Rio at the ceremony.
The red-and-white checked pattern recalls no less than the infamous Norwegian curling team’s pants from the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. Seems Croatia wants a piece of that too, but sadly not even the Norwegians chose that same scheme. However, Croatia is the defending water polo champion and I want to see if their Speedos match the rest of their outfits.
Dressed by Christian Louboutin, I was so excited for this only to find they’re very … meh. Not even the shoes were exciting. I have to say, I know American-Cuban relations were warming, but clearly they’re not getting the best couture quite yet (although the 2016 Chanel cruise line show on the streets of Havana was the best runway show this year).
These these typical schoolboy-prep opening ceremony looks aren’t super exciting sartorially, they have one very important distinction: these are anti-Zika outfits designed to keep away mosquitoes and sprayed with insect repellant somehow woven into the clothes. Respect for practicality over design here. They are hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics (where I hope their most famous athlete Yuna Kim can be avenged for the debacle of the 2014 ladies free skate) and I’m hoping that their outfits somehow incorporate the latest technology from LG or Samsung.
I’m a bit conflicted here. The jackets are dreamily cut and they chose no less than Michael Phelps to carry the flag and show off the designs, but the T-shirt is underwhelming. The one athlete who really sets it off and makes it her own is Ibtihaj Muhammed, the first American to compete while wearing the hijab (read more about what a badass she is here).
It’s my people! What you have here is the traditional barong, a formal dress shirt with a mandarin collar made of pineapple leaf or banana silk and worn over an undershirt. Yes, I’ve worn this many times in my life to formal occasions. The nice thing is that it’s being worn by both the men and the women, as it wasn’t always de rigeur for women to wear these.
Dressed by Lacoste, these are underwhelming compared to the 2014 opening when I chose them as my best-dressed. Times are tough in France and they’ve gone for a very simple look. However, the stitching makes it pop in that understated, tres chic Parisian manner. And being French doesn’t mean you have to wear berets all the time. Besides, another country borrowed their aesthetic using the same colours and accessories (more on that later).
In London, they went with dazzling colours on their saris and knocked it out of the park. This year they went with a more somber ombre but the fading is divine. Wearing the blazer over top actually ties the whole look together on the women, without overwhelming it. The effect is beautifully understated but still distinctly Indian.
They look like realtors for a competitor to Century 21. Did they open a branch office there?
Proof that the enemy known as horizontal stripes can make even the most physically fit, in-shape people on the planet look boxy and dowdy. Oh honey no.
Dedication to national costume wins point, but the flag bearer is also a medalist from the Pacific Games, lives in Brooklyn and has a day job on Wall Street as a banker. Slacker. (He says, as he eats more popcorn and drinks another sip of wine while typing this.)
There was much controversy over these outfits. They are beautiful but the problem was that these are not designed for these Olympics. It’s summertime weather and humid in Rio, and they chose to put their athletes in turtlenecks and a Nehru jacket over top. Sorry, it’s literally last Olympics season.
Bronze: Costa Rica
Tailored blazers, jaunty scarves, berets, red white and blue? It’s not France this time, it’s Costa Rica! Everything is done just right here. Depending on the material in the jacket, this could be trans-seasonal and worn at their 2018 Olympic opening ceremony if they just swap out the summer for a winter scarf. I want to wear everything here.
When I first saw their ensembles I thought the Cambodians missed Prince too, because I started singing “Purple Rain” when they came out. Dreamy fit, lovely little design elements, what’s not to love? Maybe this isn’t something you could wear on a daily basis, but it’s certainly festive and deserving of one of our best dressed.
Gold: Great Britain
Four years ago, our editor-in-chief Jen called the British white-and-gold-lame ensembles “ABBA goes boating”. They decided not to go that route this time, opting for tailored short trenches in contrasting shades of royal blue and white and the result is stunning. You could have mistaken these for Burberry, but this is Stella McCartney for Adidas. With Brexit having sent the British Pound tumbling, I want to hop over and buy this kit right now.
Special Pewter Medal for Breaking the Internet: Tonga
The media went bonkers not just for his camera-ready good looks, but because we have found the only person on the planet who’s shinier than Kim Kardashian. Also, his name is Pita, or “Peeta” like in the Hunger Games. Plus: HE IS SO SHINY. [cut to: your screen melting]
On that note, Happy
Hunger Games Olympics to all!