The Brits

Designers Miscellaneous What to Wear


The quirky opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games now in progress in London reminded us how we do love the Brits! Especially since so much of what has come to be classic men's clothing derives from the iconic tailored styles they were wearing in the early 20th century, styles from Savile Row and Jermyn Street that have evolved to return again and again.

So, we decided, time to revisit both those worlds by watching "Chariots of Fire", the 1981 movie about the British track team entered in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Started not long after World War I, those early Games took place in a world very different from today's. That perspective alone makes the story intriguing and the film did win the Academy Award for Best Picture that year.

But for us, it's the costumes that fascinate.

Milena Canonero won her second Academy Award for Best Costume Designer for this effort (her first was for "Barry Lyndon" in 1975). Her designs, both historically accurate and imaginatively realized, reinforce the personalities and positions of all the characters. Whatever the situation, these clothes seem right. And in an era when many Americans were glued to their TV sets every Sunday night watching Masterpiece Theater they had great currency.

Not surprisingly, Canonero's interpretation of British dress of that era in those particular social and academic circles was taken up by influential designers Ralph Lauren and Jeffrey Banks and soon lots of men were wearing it out in the real world.

In fact, the look became so popular that American clothing manufacturer Norman Hilton commissioned Ms. Canonero to create a collection based on her designs for the movie. She won a Coty Award for that collection in 1984.<

If you haven't seen "Chariots of Fire", now's the time. Then think about why you're wearing whatever it is you're wearing.

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