While some of the competitions are already underway, Friday’s Opening Ceremony officially got the Beijing Winter Olympics started. The Parade of Nations numbered at only 84 delegations, down from 204 in Tokyo last year when we celebrated the top 10 fashion hits and misses of the Summer Olympics.
But this time, it’s not possible to muster even 10 good things to say about the looks on display in the Olympic Stadium — once you’ve seen one parka, you’ve seen them all, as the saying goes.
So to recap what you may have missed during this year’s Opening Ceremony, here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of the winter parade.
Colombia was on the naughty list last year but this time around they’re easily a standout favorite. Wearing burgundy ruanas in a style native to the Colombian Andes, the athletes looked both stylish and unbelievably cozy walking through the Bird’s Nest.
While dialects of Timor-Leste famously have no words for “snow,” the Timorese delegation knows how to show out, despite temperatures hovering around 21 degrees in Beijing. This crew may have been the only athletes not technically in uniform, but each draped in their own richly patterned tais cloth with traditional headdresses. (I will overlook the chunky Sorel boots this one time.)
You have to respect Nigeria’s athletic governing bodies for always making sure their athletes stand out in a crowd. From their record-breaking World Cup jersey design to this opening ceremony’s tie dye head ties, Nigeria pretty much owns the color green.
Haiti’s Winter Olympics debut is rough around the edges, but the maximalism will grow on you. The coats remind me of the appropriately named Opening Ceremony’s global varsity jacket collection from 2017, which also features a Haitian design.
Respect to American Samoa’s flag bearer Nathan Crumpton for holding it down this year and carrying on Pita Taufatofua’s legacy of choosing coconut oil over Gore-Tex. Which leads us to...
In a word: parkas. If American Samoa could brave the cold in traditional dress, then athletes from colder climes have no excuse for missing every opportunity to put fashion over function. Nine out of 10 delegations showed up in near-identical down jackets and pants with as much aesthetic regard as a child’s snowsuit. Greece, below, was one example.
The only differentiating factor between many countries’ vuniforms was the color of the parkas.
The jackets are a downer, but USA’s Brittany Bowe is bringing the party as the only out LGBTQ flag bearer at the Parade of Nations this year.
I say “ugly” with love. Ugly should still be celebrated, and also differentiated from “bad,” because at least an attempt was made to do something different. Here’s to the countries that went for kitsch over style, even if the end result was questionable.
Italy, home of Versace, Gucci, Prada, and countless other iconic fashion houses, has long been synonymous with high fashion. Yet, somehow the best they could come up with was a shapeless flag with arm holes, masterminded by none other than Giorgio Armani — who, at 87 years old, seems to be just phoning it in here. If anyone could have pulled off wearing this tri-color mess it might have been king of caftans, André Leon Talley, may he rest in peace.
Another parka, but this time with a Día de Muertos inspired graphic copied and pasted on the front. It’s disappointing because of how much detail was put into the athletes’ competition uniforms — from ski suits that lovingly pay tribute to lucha libre, to Mexican figure skating hopeful Donovan Carrillo’s glam rock outfit made with 18,000 crystals!
Team GB’s muted take on the Union Jack colors for these sweaters are giving air raid shelter vibes. They’re giving wartime soap-ration coupons. They sprinted past what could have been a joyful ode to Ginger Spice and directly towards Winston Churchill.