PARIS Hometown designer Stéphane Ashpool has been named artistic director in charge of the French Olympic and Paralympic team uniforms for the Paris Games in 2024.

French athletic brand Le Coq Sportif will manufacture the performance wear for sports as varied as swimming to tennis, skateboarding to gymnastics, and judo to BMX biking.

Ashpool will oversee design for everything the athletes will wear during the games including training and competition uniforms, as well as outfits for the opening and medal ceremonies for the more than 4,000 participants.

Founder of the Pigalle Paris fashion label and winner of the 2015 edition of the ANDAM fashion prize, Ashpool was chosen from five designers, while Le Coq Sportif was selected from three manufacturers. Le Coq Sportif was chosen for its ability to produce the majority of the uniforms in France, much of it just an hour away from Paris in Romilly-sur-Seine.

“It’s a huge honor because I’m going to design everything, plus the Olympics is a huge stage, and the fact that it’s happening in Paris and I was born in Paris, it’s a good match,” Ashpool told WWD. The French National Olympic and Sports Committee looked to a fashion designer for new ideas as they wanted to establish a unique visual identity for the games.

“It’s in Paris, the city of love, but also the city of fashion. We need to be on point also on that side,” he said of what the committee was looking for in the selection process, which began in 2021. Ashpool was selected in early 2022, and has been working on the project for one year.

He put his Pigalle Paris label on hold and removed it from the men’s fashion week calendar in January, in order to devote himself to the Olympics project. Ashpool added that his sport and streetwear brand was originally envisioned as a neighborhood label.

“It’s like a small family bakery. I don’t want it to be an industry,” he said of Pigalle Paris. The label will continue and he is looking “to pass the baton” to guest designers, potentially kids from the diverse neighborhood, for the time being.

It’s that neighborhood diversity that Ashpool wanted to bring to the Olympic uniforms and highlight on the global stage.

With the only hard and fast design directive being to use the tricolors of the French flag, Ashpool reinterpreted the “bleu, blanc, rouge” into new shapes and gradients.

“I ‘broke’ the flag, not just because I think it’s cool,” said Ashpool of his more experimental design. “Because traditionally the flag is separate colors, very specific lines. I stand for diversity – diversity of sport, of body and of culture. I think France represents this well.”

 Stéphane Ashpool French Olympics uniforms.

Ashpool’s test of gradient colors for the French Olympic uniforms.

He started with the flag’s colors as selected by President Emmanuel Macron in 2020, which reverted to the flag’s original darker navy blue, then worked through lighter shades that almost skew to sky blue.

Ashpool said that the committee originally felt nervous about this color choice, but came around once they understood the symbolism. “We said that it stands for diversity and this is what makes France, and Paris and these games special,” Ashpool said. “So all those elements provoked them to push their boundaries. It’s a big change.”

Ashpool restructured the flag and used digital dyeing to blend the colors in the new, more interpretive way, and he’s experimented with a reflective logo that takes on new colors depending on the light. The white is also an more elegant eggshell tone instead of a stark shade.

He enlisted Chanel’s Lesage atelier to create samples of embroidered logos that also play with various shades of blue.

Embroidery sample Chanel's Lesage atelier for the French Olympic uniforms.

Embroidery sample from Chanel’s Lesage atelier.

Ashpool said he is trying to bring in unique elements that showcase athletes’ personalities, such as bucket hats, for various categories. He noted the wide range of needs in everything from surfing to gymnastics, and also noted it’s the first time the Olympics are including breakdancing as a category. Adapting is part of the creative challenge, he added.

“As they have choreography, the coach wants the athletes to have a look that fits,” he said of the dance categories. “How can we have some spirit of soul in the garments? Potentially we are going to see if we can apply small elements and vocabulary.”

Ashpool will deliver the final prototypes in April. The Olympic Games will take place in Paris from July 26 to Aug. 11, 2024.

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