Women’s Wear Daily
04.21.2014
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fashion-features

London Set for Olympic Gold Rush

The British fashion flock are already into the Olympic spirit with the news that London nosed out Paris in the bid for the 2012 Summer Games.

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Londoners celebrate winning the 2012 Olympic Games
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LONDON — The British fashion flock are already into the Olympic spirit.

The news Wednesday that London nosed out Paris in the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics sent the country celebrating as if it had just won the World Cup. Designers were among the celebrants — and they were already figuring out how to work the theme into their collections.

"This is such great news," said Manolo Blahnik. "This will be absolutely an inspiration to me. There will no doubt be some Olympic boots in a future collection."

Stella McCartney was equally pleased. "I would love to get the team looking extrafine in our gear," she said, referring to her new sports performance line, Stella McCartney for Adidas.

Julien Macdonald said he was over the moon. "My favorite events are the gymnastics and tri-athletics, and my designs for the Games would be very glamorous."

According to the London Retail Consortium, a body that represents retailers in and around the city, the Games, which will take place in London's East End, should generate an extra $917 million, or 521 million pounds, for the retail sector.

"Retailers generally benefit from this feel-good factor as it usually means people have a positive attitude toward everything — including spending their money," said a spokesman for the LRC.

It's the first time since 1948 the Olympics have been held in Britain and, in 2012, London will become the first city to have hosted the modern Olympic Games three times.

Caroline Collis, a director at the designer specialty store Browns, said the Games would bring the city a big boost.

"It will impact everything — retail, property, the economy — and people's spirits," she said. "I never really thought of myself as the patriotic sort, but London really deserved this."

A spokeswoman for Topshop said the store would definitely mark the Games in some way, and was already gearing up to handle extra shoppers with an expanded store format that will be unveiled in October.

Allegra Hicks and Patrick Cox heard the news during a lunch at Mortons in honor of Brooke Shields. Hicks said she was looking forward to the gymnastics events in particular.
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"I love to watch the Games, and I cry every time someone wins," she said. "And of course I'd love to dress some of the athletes. That kind of project would be great because it's not just about fashion. They're athletes, so it has a double edge."

Cox, a London-based Canadian, said the people who live and work in central London would get the best of both worlds. "The bedlam will be in the East End — so removed from the center of town, and we'll be getting the top end of the tourism."

Cox, who's done special-edition sneakers for the Atlanta Olympics and other international sports events, said he'd definitely create a new design to mark the event.

He added that London's win was also the "most fabulous possible" snub to French President Jacques Chirac, who, like so many other Frenchman through the years, insulted English food during the campaigning. "I think it's a sign the French need to change their leader," Cox said.

Across the English Channel, the news that Paris lost out drew mixed reactions. Karl Lagerfeld, another transplanted designer, clearly wasn't weeping for France's loss. A few days before the announcement, the German-born, Paris-based designer said he wasn't thrilled about the French bid — but purely from an aesthetic perspective.

"I only hope they get rid of that neon thing in front of the parliament, which is an embarrassment to Paris," he said, referring to the gigantic Paris 2012 eyesore plastered on the elegant columns of the National Assembly building. "It's beyond horrible. I like Las Vegas — but not in Paris."

Although the British media were quick to credit Lord Sebastian Coe, the former Olympic gold medalist and chairman of the London bid, and Prime Minister Tony Blair for Wednesday's victory, it was patently clear the secret weapon was David Beckham, one of the East End's native sons and captain of England's national soccer team.

On Tuesday, before the voting began, Beckham addressed members of the International Olympic Committee in Singapore. He told them he used to canoe on the River Lea — where some of the Olympic water sports will be held.
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"I would love the Olympics to be in the East End, my manor," the suntanned Beckham said with a big, sparkling smile. "But it's not just about the East End. It's not just about London. It's going to transform the whole country. To have the Olympics in London — that's something special."

— With contributions from Ellen Burney and Nina Jones, London, and Miles Socha, Paris
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