I have been watching the Olympics off and on, and had the chance to catch one of my favorite events, Freestyle (moguls). As I watched, I noticed the U.S. Freestyle team's suits. Freestyle outfits are designed to intentionally showcase the knees and minimize the torso, because the upper body should travel calmly and the knees should be positioned together and show the movement of the skier's legs and ski-tips (a significant portion of an athlete's score is derived from style).
The torso is higher and therefore more easily seen by the judges. As a result, in order to draw the eye downward, bright patches are placed over the knees, and solids tend to cover the torso. I was very surprised at how utilitarian the U.S. team's suits were. They were not particularly good looking, and functionally achieved their purpose (you noticed the knees and didn't focus on the torso). They looked a bit like they were wearing pajamas in royal blue with star print.
This lack of flair (in the suits - the skiers themselves compensated magnificently) made me wonder if perhaps the design had been significantly influenced by the economic morass in the United States. Is our collective emotional state influencing our cultural representation? Ralph Lauren designed the ready-to-wear collection that you see U.S. Olympians wearing on the podium, and this sort of pattern does remind me a bit of his style, but I could not find if he was responsible or not.
What do you think? Is our stoic presentation due to our current economic environment? Or do you think that the design above is just as bombastic as previous U.S. Olympic designs? See below:
I feel like our presentation on the world stage is a reflection of our emotional state as a country (and I couldn't help but overhear my compatriots this weekend remarking about the lackluster economy and the rising Chinese star). It's fascinating to think of a cultural subconscious having such an effect on art and design.