Next month the world’s eyes will be glued to televisions, laptops and cell-phone screens as Sochi, Russia, will become, for 16 days, the stage for the much-anticipated 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The Russian government has spent billions over the past few years to create what they promise will be the greatest Olympics Games in history.
Russia is taking full advantage of the worldwide exposure of the Olympic Games to showcase their vast and rich cultural history which will be referenced in everything from the pageantry to the official costumes. For the fashionistas taking cues from this historical event the Byzantine influence may read “quirky”, but the Romance of 19th century Romanov excess makes for good fashion spins. Remember Anna Karenina?
This year, expect the Russian athletes to embrace their flag colors as well as their fur heritage. The official uniforms for the opening ceremony, in fact, feature white fur trims to accent the colorful national colors.
In past winter Olympics fur has been used to celebrate national identities as well as for its performance and warmth characteristics. At the opening ceremonies for Lake Placid in 1980 the USA team wore fur-lined shearling coats celebrating America’s Western heritage (think Marlboro Man meets Tom Selleck 80s swagger) whereas Russia’s team donned the stereotypical de rigueur Cold War look of fur hats, large collars and full fur coats.
While current fashion trends do play a role in the design of team costumes, when these trends clash with sport and national identity, the result can be, well, overwrought. We’ll leave our figure skaters alone – their costumes seem to generate plenty of interesting discussions. But when it comes to competing in the cold of winter athletes do seem to favor a little fur glam both on and off the court.
While the world watches the sporting competitions we will have a special eye on the Sochi Olympic fashions!