Granted, “sport” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of Valentino. But as this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi kick off, it’s worth pointing out that Mr. Valentino has an Olympic history all his own: In 1984, he designed the uniforms worn by the Italian national team members competing at the Summer Games in Los Angeles. The look was very natty—blue blazers for the women and the men, matched with white pleated skirts and white trousers, respectively. The men wore a tie striped in the national colors, while the female athletes donned pussy-bow blouses and pith helmets trimmed in Italian red, white and green.
Even the debut of the uniforms was uniquely chic. Mr. Valentino unveiled them at his haute couture runway show for Fall/Winter ’83. At the time, Valentino couture was shown in Rome, and the U.S. ambassador to Italy and his wife and the British film director Ken Russell were both in attendance as various athletes modeled the Olympic looks. As the Pittsburgh Press reported, in its July 23, 1983 issue:
“Preceded by a runner in white T-shirt and blue shorts who lit the Valentino eternal flame, came high-jumper Sara Simeoni, winner of a gold medal at the Moscow Olympics and former world record holder, and Marcello Guarducci, holder of the European swimming record in the 100 meter freestyle.
There were also seven other Italian athletes, who hold titles in fencing, water polo and track and field.”
The Italian team took 32 medals home from the Los Angeles Games—plus one unofficial gold, awarded for style.