I like Ralph Lauren, a true American icon. His rugged gear epitomizes the promise of the American West as do Levi’s jeans, Wranglers and Marlboros. His more sophisticated duds evoke the jazz years of F. Scott and his chum, the Great Gatsby. Style wise you can’t go wrong wearing one of his polo shirts and chinos. His rise from rags to riches has been marked by nary a misstep or scandal unlike many others. A well-dressed, stylish morally upright Horatio Alger comes to mind.
The Olympics are another story, they suck, and they stink to high heavens. They are everything that we shouldn’t want to be. They are corrupt, beset by financial scandal. Bribes, prejudice and cronyism abound. They are crass consumerism writ large. Every four years billions of dollars are spent on stadiums, arenas and sport venues, to be used but once and then discarded, abandoned. In a time of austerity England just spent $14.5 billion on the London Games while slashing $14.1 billion [£9.1 billion] in disabled people benefits.
Put Ralph, a great guy, in league with a flawed institution and you are courting disaster. The disaster just happened when he, America’s fashion icon, was asked to design the official uniforms for this year’s Olympics by the United States Olympic Committee.
The uniforms, the costumes, come on Ralph you got to be kidding me. You got the colors, red, white and blue, right but everything else is wrong. Start at the top, for the ladies the cloche hat is out except if you are in a 1920’s Broadway musical revival. For men a béret is great if you are a Basque tending sheep in the Pyrenees or a Special Ops guy playing macho man. Ralph, Danbury is no longer the hat capital of the world for good reason, nobody wears them. By the way isn’t that red, white and blue flash on the béret the Air France logo?
I admire the simple ladies’ blazer, brass buttons gleaming, and that stylish scarf but what’s with the double breasted blazers for the guys? They reek of pretend privilege especially when paired with those dorky round shirt collars and club ties. Ralph, the prancing white pony with polo chukkas has got to go. You don’t need the exposure and Polo is not a featured sport in these Olympics.
The uniforms that Team USA™ will wear this month in London were made in China, without Ralph’s input I am sure. No surprise since most stuff in Walmart and Target is made in China, the Philippines and Vietnam. While cost effective it doesn’t do much for America’s image and the spin that the National Olympic Committee [NOC] tries to foist on us with that logo, Team USA™. Would the making of 596 [310 men’s & 286 women’s] uniforms in the United States bankrupt our Olympic effort?
The Olympic Committee claims no dependence upon Government taxpayer moneys. It notes that it receives no direct financial support and is a privately funded. But it enjoys a monopoly and is chartered by an Act of Congress [36 United States Code 2205 et seq.]. If NOC is truly independent and enjoys no government support then let it shed the privileged status that it now enjoys. Let other Olympic Committees flourish and compete, after all, that is the American Way, right?
Ralph Lauren is the patsy in these Olympic games of power, politics and high finance. As for the Olympic Committee, I can only repeat Joseph Welch’s famous questions of Senator Joseph McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency, [Gentlemen]? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” and compassion for America’s working men and women?
APOLOGIES TO RALPH LAUREN:
Ralph, I done you wrong, I apologize. I wrote hastily, shot from the hip.
Last week I took you down, derided your efforts in clothing our Olympians in less than stellar duds. I mocked your Basque beréts with the flying Air France logos and your men’s elitist double breasted blazers and club ties. I suggested that the Polo pony be put out to pasture and that the patches were very Walt Disney’s Mouseketeers. Old Walt was not a designer while you are one in a league all your own.
This morning, by chance, I happened to see the Olympic designs that our poor benighted Olympians had to wear in years past. Shame and ridicule should have been heaped upon those earlier uniforms. They should have been mocked, ridiculed, parodied, satirized and thrown to languish in Chinese or Philippine dustbins and their designers sent to Russia’s gulags.
You Ralph, in contrast, did one hell of a job. Congratulations. Don’t get me wrong I still think you could have done better with your talents and taste. I expect more from you next time. Please ditch the beréts.