Today much-anticipated football tournament Euro 12 kicks off, with Europe's sixteen best national football teams battling it out for the cup. As always there are favourites (Spain, Germany), the upstarts (France, Holland) and the dark horses (Poland, Russia), but how do they fare when we rate them in terms of contribution to the fashion industry rather than skills on the pitch? We take a look at the sixteen competing countries' most substantial gifts to the style arena...
Hosting nation (along with the Ukraine) Poland has a rich history in the beauty industry (Max factor and Helena Rubenstein were both born there) but fashion-wise its main star has to be Barbara Hulanicki, the Warsaw born former Vogue
illustrator who opened up legendary boutique Biba in London’s Kensington, where the likes of The Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull and David Bowie would come to hang out and stock up on velvet suits, floppy hats and mini-skirts.
A constant disappointment at football tournaments, England are decidedly more successful in the fashion arena, where home-grown stars include Vivienne Westwood
, Phoebe Philo, Christopher Bailey, Kate Moss and Alexander McQueen
. However, we’ve opted to highlight photographer David Bailey, since he pretty much defined London’s finest style era – The Swinging Sixties and created some of the industry’s most iconic images.
The other co-host of the tournament is a model hotbed, with probably the most famous export being Milla Jovovich who moved to the US as a teenager and quickly became one of the industry’s most successful faces. At one point she also co-designed label Jovovich Hawk with fellow model Carmen Hawk.
Republic of Ireland
This is only Ireland’s second time competing in the Euros, but their style history is a lot deeper. Born near Dublin, magazine editor Carmel Snow not only helmed American Harper’s Bazaar
during its most influential period (1934-1958), but was the person who first named Christian Dior
’s famous post-war collection ‘The New Look’. She also kick-started the careers of Andy Warhol, Lauren Bacall, Truman Capote and Diana Vreeland.
Something of a dark horse in the Euro tournament, it’s also an apt description for Croatian born Damir Doma
, whose brooding, directional designs have seen him quietly rise to becoming one of the industry’s most intriguing young designers. Noted for his artful draping, Doma has developed a cult celebrity client base and now shows in Paris.
As the current World Cup holders and winners of the last Euros tournament, Spain are generally considered the globe’s current best footballing nation. When it comes to fashion they have decidedly less world stars, but still, one of the most iconic among their number – Cristóbal Balenciaga
. The famed couturier is credited with redefining the female silhouette and mastering the art of garment construction, and the house he gave his name to is still one of the industry’s most celebrated.
As a football team Holland are generally considered reliable and likely to go far, but not particulary exciting. This can hardly be said of Dutch photographer Inez Van Lamsweerde, who alongside partner Vinoodh Matadin has produced some of fashion’s most dazzlingly provocative images over the past two decades. Inventive, colourful and joyful, she has shot countless advertising campaigns and cover shoots for the industry’s biggest names.
After a blip in the last couple of years, France’s football team are thought to be one of the continent’s best once more, but in fashion, it’s a nation that has never once wavered. As the birthplace of fashion, the examples we could have picked from Paris alone are spectacular, but we’ve gone with Coco Chanel
, because of her gorgeous tweed suits and Breton tops, because she challenged and redefined the notions of beauty, because of her perfume empire and because she was probably the industry’s first truly fascinating figures.
Scandinavian fashion has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, and one of the most prominent designers in this new generation is Henrik Vibskov
, whose experimental, mind bending collections have seen him go from small Danish label to huge popularity in the rest of Europe, and across the Atlantic in America.
Another popular nation for models, we’ve instead decided to highlight the little-known (now) textile designer Zika Ascher. The unfamiliarity of his name is deceiving, Ascher was once the subject of a huge retrospective at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and was most famous for his colourful, patterned rayon scarves, which brightened up thousands of drab, post-war womens’ outfits, and for which he recruited the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Cocteau to help him design.
Considered by most to be this tournament’s team to beat, Germany are one of the collective Euros’ most consistent teams, something also reflected in their contribution to the fashion industry, with a steady stream of top photographers like Ellen Von Unwerth and Helmut Newton. We’ve chosen designer Jil Sander
though, whose clean, minimal approach to neat, tailored pieces prompted a whole new way of dressing for women in the Eighties. She was forced out of her eponymous label in 2004, but will return to it next season, replacing her successor, the Dior-bound Raf Simons.
One of the industry’s most exciting young designer, Greek born, London based Mary Katrantzou
has gained critical acclaim for her vibrant, easily recognisable dresses. Katrantzou takes inspiration from obscure sources like the sculptor Jon Chamberlain and old typewriters and combines them with classic dress shapes and curve hugging proportions for dresses that are wearable but experimental at the same time.
Growing up in poverty in one of the Soviet Union’s poorest districts, Natalia Vodianova has since gone on to become one of the fashion industry’s most successful faces. She sold fruit on the streets of Nizhny before being scouted for her doll-like features and through campaigns and catwalk went on to become the world’s best paid model three years running, putting a substantial amount of it back into a trust she set up to help Russian children.
Like England and France, Italy is the home of one of the world’s four big fashion cities (Milan, along with Paris, New York and London) so it makes sense that they would also be responsible for some of the industry’s biggest names (Armani
, Prada to name just a few). We’ve decided to go with design duo Dolce & Gabbana
in this case, because the pair’s sensual, flamboyant designs take inspiration from their passionate and colourful homeland more than anyone else.
Sweden might have one of the tournament’s least recognisable teams, but in Acne
, they have what is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most recognisable labels. Starting off as a premium denim brand, with designer Jonny Johansson the brand soon graduated to ready-to-wear, and the simple but striking, clean Scandinavian aesthetic of his collections has fast become the uniform of the fashion-forward around the world.
A bit of a left-field choice here, but for Portugal’s style representation we’d like to nominate…ourselves! Or to be more specific, farfetch.com
founder Jose Neves who started out as a footwear designer in his native Portugal before starting up cult urban shoe label SWEAR
in London, where he co-founded quirky boutique b store and finally, came up with the concept of uniting the world’s best independent stores, which would eventually turn into this very site – farfetch.com!