What happens when a homegrown talent infuses his artistry with the spirit of sport, setting the stage for one of the world’s most esteemed events? The world witnesses a symphony of fashion, sport, and heritage, orchestrated by Stéphane Ashpool, the artistic maestro chosen to design the French Olympic and Paralympic team uniforms for the Paris 2024 Games Olympics.
Entering the golden racecourse of sports with his renowned fashion prowess, Stéphane Ashpool is set to play maestro to a grand symphony of sartorial innovation. The Parisian couturier of the popular Pigalle Paris label, an ANDAM fashion prize laureate, becomes the veritable fashion compass guiding the aesthetic direction of all athletic attire, spanning diverse disciplines from swimming to skateboarding, tennis to gymnastics, judo to BMX biking.
Local powerhouse, Le Coq Sportif, has been chosen to bring Ashpool’s vision to life, manufacturing uniforms radiating French charisma. “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,” he remarked. Ashpool’s eyes light up when speaking of his responsibility. “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.”
The collaboration of Ashpool and Le Coq Sportif signifies more than just a marriage of homegrown talents. It represents the French National Olympic and Sports Committee’s keen pursuit of a unique visual identity that can marry tradition with fashion-forward innovation. It seems fitting, then, that this task has been handed over to a man who relishes blending Parisian chic with a streetwise sensibility.
Ashpool hung up his regular designing gloves for Pigalle Paris in January, pausing the label to pledge his allegiance to the Olympic cause. Likening his label to a family bakery, he remains committed to keeping Pigalle Paris an intimate affair, and is eyeing to “pass the baton” to guest designers, primarily those nurtured by the eclectic neighborhood. This loyalty to neighborhood diversity, to the essence of the everyman, is what Ashpool aspires to incorporate into the Olympic uniforms, effectively illuminating it on a global pedestal.
Guided by the iconic tricolors of the French flag, Ashpool sought to challenge conventions and reconfigure the ‘bleu, blanc, rouge’ into progressive shapes and gradients. Boldly proclaiming, “I ‘broke’ the flag, not just because I think it’s cool,” Ashpool underlines his commitment to promoting diversity through design. Embarking from the darker navy blue adopted by President Emmanuel Macron in 2020, Ashpool conceived an elegant gradient that inclines towards a lighter sky blue.
Despite the initial apprehension from the committee, his determination to embody diversity and uniqueness soon won them over. He remarked, “We said that it stands for diversity and this is what makes France, and Paris and these games special.” Ashpool’s rendition of the flag fuses technology and tradition, using digital dyeing to manifest his vision of unity in diversity, and his experimentation with a chameleon-like reflective logo capable of changing its hues under varied light conditions.
Leaning towards the exquisite, Ashpool also collaborated with Chanel’s Lesage atelier to create samples of embroidered logos that resonate with diverse shades of blue. His relentless quest for uniqueness extends to personalized elements for athletes, such as bucket hats, to accentuate their individuality.
The first Olympics to recognize breakdancing as a category, the Paris 2024 Games will require an adaptive spirit to dress athletes with flair while respecting the unique requirements of their sport. “As they have choreography, the coach wants the athletes to have a look that fits,” says Ashpool. The designer’s challenge thus lies not just in his design but also in its seamless adaptation to the distinctive ethos of each sport, making sure that each garment resonates with a spirit of soul.
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