It's Friday and time for a style question. Today's topic has more to do with form than content.
Have you ever entered a designer store and wanted to flee faster than you can say "Louis Vuitton"--not just because of the prices, but because you are suddenly completely tongue-tied when it comes to pronouncing names like Hermes, Versace, Balenciaga, Moschino, Proenza Schouler, Theirry Mugler, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin or Gareth Pugh? And then there's the Japanese designers: Junya Watanabe, Rei Kawakubo, and Isse Miyake--fuggetaboutit!
I started looking into the vast territory of butchered designer names for an assignment my editor at SheKnows.com gave me. As I researched sites and threads on the internet, it turns out there are skads of confounded people when it comes to pronouncing even the seemingly simpler designer names like Dior (Dee-or), Chanel (Shuh-nel), Gucci (Goo-chee), Hermes (silent 'h'), and Prada (Prah-da). Duh. Or maybe not...
After reading up on all the controversy surrounding the correct way to pronounce 'Louis Vuitton', I started worrying that I was actually saying it wrong, especially after reading that Marc Jacobs, the head designer for Louis Vuitton, says "Louis Vwee-ton".
Luckily we have YouTube.com to allay any and all fears. Here's how the designers names sound straight out of the horse's mouth:
Note: while Style.com interviewer, Tim Blanks says "Vwee-ton" (everything the brits say sounds good no matter how they say it), I would tend to trust the pronunciation of Yves Carcelle, the Frenchman who runs the 3.2 billion euro fashion and leather goods division of the world's largest luxury-goods group, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA. Click on the video above if you'd like to hear Mr. Carcelle pronouce 'Vuitton' correctly. It sounds a bit like "Vwhee-tawn"--the 'vwhee' is said quickly and the 'w' is very light, so it almost sounds like 'Vhee'. 'Tawn' is also said very quickly with a soft, almost imperceptible 'n'.
Then there's Versace--notoriously mispronounced by Elizabeth Berkeley's character in Showgirls as 'Ver-say-ss'. Although few mangle it as badly as that particular showgirl, there seems to be a debate about whether it's pronounced 'Ver-saw-chee', 'Ver-saw-chay', or just 'Ver-saw-ch'. Suddenly feeling insecure, I called the Versace store in Beverly Hills to double check. The woman answering the phone said something so heavily (and not necessarily correctly) accented, I lost my nerve and hung up. (I know, still immature after all these years...)
Back to YouTube. Donatella Versace pronounces her name "Ver-saw-chay' with a very soft 'ay' on the end, like 'egg'. But see for yourself:
To get your own cheat sheet on designer names, you can download my mini-glossary that will be posting soon at Sheknows.com--there's even an extra credit section so you can double check the Japanese designers.