How the Olympics Compare to Haute Couture

When I think of Haute Couture the words elaborate, high quality, attention to detail and excessive come to mind, just like the Olympics. For almost a century haute couture has been the most elite form of high fashion, as its status represents a custom-order only kind of collection that eerily resembles the talents and qualifications athletes require to participate in any Olympiad. 

Host cities, like designers, must try to out-do previous "collections" and claim a reputation that lasts well beyond the glory of the moment. Many cities and fashion houses vie for an opportunity to showcase their best work to the world, but very few countries or designers can ever claim they've done so; which is considered an honour in both the fashion and sports industries.   

With each opening ceremony acting like a runway, improbable ideas are brought to life and executed to perfection. The inspiration has been years in the making and the cost of putting together such an ornate performance profound. That's where sports and fashion have another thing in common; cost. While visually stunning, historically monumental and sentimentally moving all at the same time, the back story to such high profile events always comes back to cost. The cost of couture is so high, the number of collections who present have plummeted from over 100 in 1946 to less than a dozen today.

The feeling is mutual for many of the inhabitants belonging to a city bidding for the Olympics; not only is it expensive to bid, if selected the eight year countdown can run a city hundreds of millions of dollars. Time to order fireworks, build stadiums, villages, monuments and more while the taxpayers take the brunt of it. Anyone remember Montreal '76? It took over 30 years after the Olympics ended for the city to finally cover the cost of building the Olympic Stadium, or as we Montrealers like to call it, the Big Owe. Imagine paying taxes on a building that has been around before you  arrived and lay dormant for decades? Even when the Expos were around in the 90's the crowd wasn't big enough to keep the lights on and its looming shadow is a reminder of one of the cities biggest blunders.

From the runway to the relay, you can always count on protesters to try and spoil the party - taking out the torch is the equivalent of red paint on a $40,000 mink coat. But in both cases the security is extremely tight and your odds are about as good as turning a profit for hosting such a luxurious affair, which sometimes does happen. 

While the debate on what is good taste will always come into question, there's no denying the allure these exquisite events hold; the finest the world has to offer paired alongside the opportunity to witness something truly stunning. 


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