Love it or hate it: Czech Olympic dress combines tradition with Japanese flair

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By Jiri Skacel

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Designer Zuzana Osako has scoured the folk traditions of her country and Japan in search of a common thread to weave into the outfits of the Czech Republic’s Olympic team for the opening ceremony of the Games of Tokyo in July, turning heads but also drawing criticism.

The outfits of the Czech Olympic team tend to attract attention. In 2012, the athletes stood out with electric blue Wellington boots at the opening ceremony of the London Games.

They followed that up with white and black striped sports coats for the Rio 2016 Games that reminded many fans of actor Michael Keaton’s iconic “Beetlejuice” character outfit.

Osako, who had visited Japan as a model and met her husband there, opted this time to take inspiration from the hand-dyed, board-dyed indigo printing technique known in the Czech Republic as blueprint name.

“The first thought was how to reflect the culture of Japan,” she said in her studio in Prague. “So I looked for something that connects the two cultures. “

The technique of decorating fabrics has Asian origins but spread to Europe in the 18th century and is still popular in other central European countries like Hungary, Slovakia or Austria, according to the heritage website Czech from UNESCO.

The technique uses molds to cover areas that will remain colorless when fabrics take an indigo bath.

Osako incorporated the Czech team symbol of a gymnast – a nod to Vera Caslavska, who won three gold and one silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 – with her arms outstretched to side of floral patterns on the outfits.

The men wear blue vests with white pants and the women blue blouses and white skirts, with red on the shoes and the hems to complement the national colors; the cuts are traditional.

Fans are props and were the only parts to have received the traditional and tedious plan processing. Most of the clothes were produced with digital printing.

Some athletes praised the outfits in the collection. Gymnast Aneta Holasova called them beautiful and pleasant enough “to sleep in,” according to sports news site Sport.cz, but others laughed at them in social media memes as design experts were critical.

Designer Stepanka Pivcova put out an open call for tenders next time. ” It’s unbearable. Every year it just gets worse and worse!

Elle magazine quoted design professor Libena Rochova from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague as saying the collection was amateurish.

Osako ignored the criticism.

“It’s a collection that probably needs some understanding, and then someone’s opinion can become ‘yes or no’ for her,” she said.

(Reporting by Jiri Skacel, written by Jason Hovet; editing by Jan Lopatka and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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