x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Who wore it best: Olympics opening ceremony fashion

Olympics 2012: Nadia El Dasher and James Gabrillo run through the 16 countries that made an impression at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Games.

Jordan's athletes. Gabriel Bouys / AFP
Jordan's athletes. Gabriel Bouys / AFP

Nadia El Dasher and James Gabrillo run through the 16 countries that made an impression at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.


For the most part, it's a crisp and clean cut look, as chic as you'd expect from the eminent retro prepwear designer Ralph Lauren: sharp navy blazers, cream cuffed trousers for the men and silk skirts for the women, accessorised by ties and scarves featuring patriotic flashes of red.

But then comes the head gear, which Lauren described as "really fun berets". Really? Pulled taut and worn hard on the right, in what way does it represent athleticism? They looked more like trainee chefs. Maybe a classic baseball cap next time?


Designed by Bob Marley's daughter Cedella, Jamaica's Puma military-inspired ensembles exude edgy, deftly incorporating the colours of the country's flag. The athletes looked confident and comfortable and sported big smiles - which, really, are what clothes should be doing to you. Additional props for that killer graphic tee worn by flag-bearer and superman Usain Bolt.


The most fashion-forward of the lot. Designed by the menswear brand Suitsupply, the navy blue blazers, v-neck sweaters, striped knit ties and bright blue coats were dapper takes on classic athletic uniform staples. And those bold oranges - totally on trend. It helped that the Dutch delegation look like models.


Here's a welcome break from the usual excessiveness at the Games. True to Scandinavian design's aesthetic of simplicity and functionality, the Danish brand Bestseller delivered these terrific looks: A-line navy skirts paired with red cardigans for the ladies, and crisp white shirts, denim blazers and khakis for the gents. They looked respectable and dignified.


Best in menswear. The Valentino-trained designer Stijn Helsen put his tailoring skills to good use, particularly for the men's perfectly-proportioned three-piece suit, layering a bright red vest under a black blazer.

Czech Republic

Adorably avant-garde, although we wish the men had gone all out and worn the hoods of their sweatshirts. Gumboots with shorts is still a concept we're trying to fathom, though the matching women's shorts and umbrellas are so radical, they actually kind of work.


First unveiled during Sydney Fashion Week, their stark white trousers and dark green heritage blazers emblazoned with gold buttons were distinct but still tasteful. The real winners here are the shoes - designed by Volley, the standard whites with green and navy trims looked quintessentially cool.


While the women's skirts were too garish, their bright yellow tops and patterned scarves were far from being an eyesore. The men looked even better in their red jackets and neat hats - have you ever seen NBA player and flag-bearer Pau Gasol this snazzy?

Great Britain

These space age suits remind us more of 1990s boy bands than sleek athletic gear. Stella McCartney fiercely denied being involved in designing these outfits saying that she only worked on the performance kit, podium suit and villagewear. The uniforms were in fact designed by British retailer Next.

El Salvador

The team's looks combined many spring/summer 2012 trends: layering, minimalism and most importantly ombré. Although the trend was mainly seen on hair, El Salvador's ombré jersey blazers were incredibly flattering, paired with fitted skirts and printed ties.


Red, orange, black and yellow dominated the attire. With strong tribal prints, heavily decorated collars and bang-on-the-trend midi length robes, Cameroon were a strong style contender among the hundreds. We couldn't help but think of the red cape from Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci autumn/winter 2012.


By far the best dressed Arab country in this year's ceremony, Jordan proved that simple customary dress translates the best on camera. The women wore black kaftans detailed with red embroidery and long loose hair, while the men sported slick charcoal suits with a red and white ghutra.


Pairing two tricky colours together, team India looked fresh yet sophisticated. With embroidered bright yellow saris and fitted black blazers for the women and intricately wrapped turbans with casual suits for men, we were very taken by their entrance.


Summer pastels were a hit with the Scandinavian team, where yellow and turquoise stripes gave the athletes a bright young look. The simple jumpers and crisp white skirts and trousers exemplified Swedish style and made the team stand out among stuffy suits and formal gear.


When team Mexico appeared on our screens, a big grin flashed across our faces. The team embraced their traditional clothing in one of the most innovative ways, with every colour on the rainbow making an appearance and somehow working exceedingly well together. It was all about woven and striped ponchos, printed shirts and big smiles.


Yet another team kitted in pastels, this time white and pale blue. Benin looked every bit the trendsetters with striped bottom halves and pleated headpieces. This (and next) season's peplum shape and pencil skirts - think "New Look" Dior circa 1947 - also made an appearance on the ladies.