I must have been looking the other way when the New Zealand Olympic uniform was unveiled a couple of days ago. My first sight of it was the Dominion letters pages this morning, where an image (not the one above) accompanies a declaration that the writer is revolted by it. She claims to cringe every time she sees the uniform and to feel sorry for those who have to wear it. She takes particular exception to that "naff scarfy tie thing", and says the men's blazers "look like they've been borrowed off a wealthy cousin who went to a private school".
I pretty much agree with her. I can't accurately claim to be revolted, but I do find these over-grown schoolchildren a dismal sight.
Designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet has, as the media like to put it, "hit out" at the uniform, not its appearance but its offshore design and manufacture.
The contract was apparently won by Rodd & Gunn - retailers of faux rural attire to city dwellers who, in the course of a year, go nowhere near rods, guns, mud or countryside (unless safely enclosed in their 4-wheel drives). The Olympic garments have all the hallmarks of the firm's conventional drear. (I intended inserting here a couple of images from R & G's stock in trade, but having browsed their website, I'm too depressed to follow through).
The firm's Australian-based designer used the 1948 Olympic uniform as her template. The blazers from both eras are said to be almost identical. So far, so historically accurate (if that's what you after). But surely a 21st- century twist was called for. The over-grown schoolboy-effect is reinforced by those drainpipe pants. Back in the day, weren't these tight blazers balanced by wide trou? Now that would have been a more stylish look.
Sadly, the women's outfits lie beyond the quick fix. Boy, is that dress miserable - the print, the shape, the naff scarfy thing and all. And when you consider that most of those compelled to wear it will be under 30 ... .
Some spokesperson or other said, rather defensively, that the fabric is a custom print, and the best Italy has to offer. To which the response can only be, so what? The overall effect is so grandma-ish that I imagine its wearers not leaping hurdles and swimming at top speed, but in dire need of a walking frame.
So, just to cheer ourselves up, here are some images of genuine 40s style.