London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

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London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the British Fashion Council (BFC) today announce that some of the very best young emerging fashion designers working in the UK helped design costumes for key segments of the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Over the course of the last year Suttirat Larlab, Creative Director for Danny Boyle, has toured the studios of the best of British based new young designer talent selecting those designers whose aesthetic fits the narrative of the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Introduced to these designers by Sarah Mower, the BFC’s Ambassador for Emerging Talent, Suttirat and her team have chosen three main designers to showcase through the Ceremony and several others to dress individual talents and performers.

These three main designers are: Christopher Shannon, Michael Van Der Ham and Nasir Mazhar.  Each of the designers’ studios is based in the East End, a stone’s throw from the Olympic Stadium from where their designs were viewed by over a billion people worldwide. The segment that they contributed to required a representation of the present and future of the extraordinary influence of British Creatives in world of youth culture. There were about 350 dancers wearing their pieces within a segment of about 1200 dancers - a quarter of the segment is costumed purely by their work.

“London is known worldwide for its incredible talent in fashion design. We wanted to choose young designers who work and live in the East End for the Opening Ceremony and who create innovative and cutting edge new ideas. It has been an incredible experience working with this fresh new talent all of whom have dedicated themselves heart and soul to this project. The Opening Ceremony is an incredible platform to showcase the very best of creative talent in the UK and we are thrilled that Fashion is such an important part of this.”   Suttirat Larlab, Creative Director of The Opening Ceremony
"The British Fashion Council is delighted to be supporting British fashion's contribution to the Opening Ceremony.    We are thrilled that the Creative Directors of The Opening Ceremony decided to work with some of the most exciting emerging British talent based in the East End to help create costumes for key elements of the Ceremony as well as using more established talents to help dress some of the performers.
The British Fashion Council promotes leading British Fashion Designers in a global market.  Our events and initiatives support and strengthen the UK's reputations for developing design excellence. There could not be a more outstanding showcase for this talent than the Olympics and we are delighted to have played a small part in showing the best of Great Britain's creative talent." 
Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of The British Fashion Council

Image (left to right): Michael van der Ham, Nasir Mazhar and Christopher Shannon, photographed for US Vogue

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Christopher Shannon is from Liverpool and Graduated from Central Saint Martins with an MA in Menswear.   “My design signatures evolve all the time.  My collections feature performance fabrics, clean silhouettes and just the right amount of drama. Sweatshirts, t-shirts and sweaters are key pieces in his collection.”  Of his inspiration for the Opening Ceremony Shannon states:  “At the initial meeting with Danny and Suttirat we were given a synopsis of the ceremony and part we had asked to be involved with, the section is about the future and the crescendo of the whole ceremony. Whereas a lot of the designs for other performers are decade related, Suttirat wanted something that looked ahead and felt quite British.   We considered the size of the space, the lighting, choreography and also what would work well on screen.  Going back through archive we reworked quite graphic clean pieces, ones that would work well on different body shapes and also allow the performers to move.  It’s a bit like a fashion show but on the biggest scale imaginable.”

Michael Van Der Ham
is from The Netherlands and lives and works in London.  Michael graduated from Central Saint Martins and before launching his own label worked at Alexander McQueen.  “My signature style is mismatching different references in each item of clothing, juxtaposing elements of colour, texture, weight of fabric and cut.” Of his inspirations for the Opening Ceremony Van Der Hamn says: “I loved the way Danny and Suttirat wanted to focus on individuality within the ceremony and therefore the 250 plus costumes are divided up in to so many different designs and fabrications. Rather than uniformed dance costumes. I basically collaged together references in each look that had to do with youth culture: striped jersey t-shirts, polo shirts, denim pencil skirts: really, everyday garments. But those are fused and mixed with elements of party dressing (it being a party scene). Those elements include sequinned dresses, ruffled silhouettes, brocades and draped details. All those elements collided into the pieces all being completely different from another.”

Nasir Mazhar, grew up in Leytonstone and Stratford and is self taught.  Mazhar aims to re-introduce the practice of hat wearing – challenging the conventions of headwear working both with and against the standard structures of millinery.  Mazhar’s designs are for a new tribe of men and women and include his signature re-invention of a baseball cap to more fantastical showpieces worn by pop super stars – his pieces are worn by the cutting edge youth of today. He has designed head pieces for many stars including Lady Gaga and Madonna, had his school Sport’s Day in Draper’s Field and got a B for his P.E. GCSE.  Of his work for the Olympics he says:  “I am interested in how the mix of cultures in London inform and inspire our style. I wanted to take existing iconic head adornments such as head wraps, hairstyles, hijabs and dreadlocks and interpret that into a new language of head pieces.  I grew up in this area of London. The stadium is practically next to my first studio in my grandparent’s house.  It is a huge honour to be part of something as special as the Olympics and to be able to showcase my work to such a huge global audience.”


LOCOG and The British Fashion Council are also delighted to announce that the following British designers dressed various performers during the course of the Opening Ceremony:

Jonathan Saunders dressed Emeli Sande
Jonathan Saunders was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He went from Glasgow Art School to Central Saint Martins graduating with an MA in Printed Textiles in 2002. Known for his innovative use of colour and print he has worked for Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix at Pucci and Phoebe Philo at Chloe. He won the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2012 and is one of London’s most exciting design talents.

“It was a real pleasure to work with Emeli Sande. I am excited to be a part of the opening ceremony, and also to be working with somebody who is very sure about what she wants - which is not heavily embellished or girlie, and we ended up with something appropriate and cool.” Jonathan Saunders

Palmer//Harding dressed Olympic flag bearers Marina Silva and Sally Becker
Palmer//Harding is a men’s and women’s designer label based in London created by Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding.  Launched in September 2011 they have developed a fast reputation for creating immaculate white shirts as their signature.  The pair met and studied at Central Saint Martins.   Levi is from Texas and Matthew is London born.

“It is such an honour to be involved in the Opening Ceremony and to create shirts for such an iconic moment as the carrying in of The Olympic Flag.”  Palmer Harding

Richard James dressed Olympic flag bearer Haile Gebrselassie
Richard James
is one of leading figures in British Men’s tailoring.  Based on London’s Savile Row James believes that luxury need not be synonymous with companies founded a century or more ago. Since 1992 Richard James has quickly established a reputation for itself as a leading luxury brand that has set the standard for contemporary tailoring and menswear. The first of the ‘New Establishment’ tailors on Savile Row, Richard James is proud to have contributed to revitalising what has long been acknowledged as the world centre for tailoring with its bold, progressive take on the timeless and traditional.

“To have a great Savile Row tailored suit at the heart of the Opening Ceremony is truly inspiring.  I am delighted to have been asked to contribute.”  Richard James

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