In 1995, a movie that critics voted for as one of the worst films was released. This movie was Showgirls. It was a movie that was categorized as so-bad-it’s-good and eventually had a huge cult following. Most people deemed the movie as misogynistic, with excessive and unnecessary nudity. But, to some people, it was a misunderstood feministic film.
You might be asking yourself, “What’s the connection of the movie to unpronounceable fashion designer names?” I promise I’ll get to that in a bit.
Showgirls follows Nomi (played by Elizabeth Berkeley), who traveled to Las Vegas to live the American dream and become a showgirl. While living the showgirl life, she earned a little black dress from Versace, and her manager complimented her and said it was a “nice dress”. Nomi responded, “Thank you. I bought it at Versace,” which she pronounced as “ver-says”.
And there it is; that’s the point I want to make. No one knows how to pronounce the names of fashion designers correctly. And it was quite a memorable moment for a Hollywood movie to poke fun at the fact that we don’t know how to pronounce Givenchy, Hermes, Versace, and many more. Don’t even get me started with the Yves Saint Laurent pronunciation.
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Why Are Fashion Designers’ Names Impossible To Pronounce?
Some people wouldn’t find it challenging to pronounce Versace, Givenchy, or Yves Saint Laurent. And they are the French and the Italians. Of course, they are familiar names in their countries, so it would come naturally for them to know how to pronounce them. As for the rest of the world, their pronunciations are almost sound like comical and we end up butchering them every time we try to say them out loud.
If we reverse the situation, there are several English words and names that French people also have a difficult time pronouncing; these include squirrel, through, rural, and clothes. Italians find it hard to pronounce words that start with an “h” like happy, hospital, and house.
The difficulty in pronouncing these words and names has something to do with our native tongue. The language we grew up using for communication has conditioned us into assuming that a word that uses the same set of letters should probably be pronounced the same way, like Nomi in Showgirls. When she pronounced Versace, she assumed that the last four letters would sound the same as words like mace, lace, and race.
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So, how to pronounce Givenchy, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, And Other Designers’ Names?
How To Pronounce Versace – It’s Not That Hard
If you’re not yet aware of how you can read these names, you’re not alone. You might read Givenchy as “gi-ven-chee”, Hermes as “her-mes”, and Yves Saint Laurent as a completely unintelligible pronunciation. But that’s okay. Luckily, we are here to give you a list of difficult-to-pronounce names in the fashion world and how to pronounce each correctly.
First off, let’s look at Versace and how to read the Italian last name correctly. For a trendy luxury brand, you’d think that people have already grasped the infamous last name’s proper pronunciation. It turns out we have all been pronouncing it wrong.
In a Vogue interview, Donatella Versace, the successor, and sister of Gianni Versace wished people would stop mispronouncing her last name. She corrected most of us and said it’s not “ver-sa-chee” like what I’ve thought was the correct pronunciation all this time – my life is a lie. The proper pronunciation, according to her, is “ver-sa-cheh” or /verˈsa.t͡ʃe/.
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WATCH VIDEO: 73 Questions With Donatella Versace | Vogue
How To Pronounce Givenchy and Other Difficult Names
Versace isn’t that difficult to pronounce, to be honest. It’s just difficult to wrap my head around the fact that I thought I had that one figured out, but life slaps you in the face with the truth in the form of “ver-sa-cheh”.
Now, it’s the French luxury fashion brand’s turn. Count Hubert de Givenchy’s last name and brand name should be read as “zhee-von-shee” or /ʒɪˈvɑ̃ ʃi/. And to make sure you’re saying it correctly, add in a slight French accent while you’re at it.
Thierry Hermès is the next on this level of the name game. The correct way to pronounce it is “ehr-mez” or hɜːmiːz. You don’t pronounce the “h” at the start of the word. That “h” is there for no reason, like most letters in French words. And that’s it. That’s how to pronounce Givenchy.
Here are some more words to test your friends:
- Giamba – another Italian designer from Rome, and it’s meant to be pronounced “zhee-ahm-bah”
- Jacquemus – it is a French fashion brand by Simon Porte Jacquemus and you could read it as “ja-keh-moos”.
- Jonathan Simkhai – to change things up a bit, we have an American fashion brand, and his last name’s pronunciation is like sim-kai.
- Junya Watanabe – it’s now time for some Asian representation with this Japanese fashion designer. You would pronounce his name like this: “june-yah watt-ah-nah-bae”
- Loewe – this time we have an 1846 fashion brand founded in Madrid, Spain by a group of leather craftsmen. This brand name’s pronunciation is a little tricky despite it being a short name; it’s “lo-we-veh“.
- Miu Miu – this looks like the sound that a cat makes, but this fashion brand which is a subsidiary of Prada should sound like “myeww myeww“. The name is a nod to the designer Miuccia Bianchi Prada.
- Rei Kawakubo – we have another Japanese designer known for her avant-garde clothing. This one is relatively easy and it should be read as “ray kawa-koo-boh”.
WATCH VIDEO: 12 Brands YOU pronounce INCORRECTLY
At Last… Something That I Could Pronounce Easily
So, let’s take this name-pronouncing game to the next level. We’re halfway through the list of difficult-to-pronounce fashion designer names. Here are some that may be a little more challenging:
- Alessandro Michele – by now, you shouldn’t be surprised that he is Italian. For his last name, you wouldn’t pronounce it as “Michelle”; it’s actually “ah-less-an-dro mee-keh-leh“.
- Balmain – this is a French fashion house founded by Pierre Balmain. You shouldn’t pronounce the last two letters; pretend they don’t exist by saying “bahl-mah“.
- Pigalle – don’t be fooled by this name because it might be short, but its pronunciation is not that easy to pin down. We will give you a clue: it’s a French brand, and it’s a rule of thumb not to pronounce the ending letters in most French names and words, so it’s “pee-gahl“.
- Rochas – okay, this one is a French fashion, beauty, and perfume brand by Marcel Rochas. You already how the s at the end is silent, making it “ro-sha“.
- Thierry Mugler – of course, another French designer with a French name that’s difficult to pronounce. It’s “tier-ee moo-gler”.
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Final Round: The Most Difficult To Pronounce Names In The Fashion World
Now, we have reached the final and most difficult round. This is like the final boss in the game of difficult names. Let’s start:
- Courrèges – is a French label by André Courrèges, and his last name should be pronounced this way: “coo-rehj”.
- Cushnie et Ochs – this is a fashion house founded by Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs. The pronunciation should sound something like this: “cush-knee-et-awks“.
- Fausto Puglisi – he is a Sicilian designer with a last name that might make you reevaluate your reading skills because it’s supposed to be read as “fao-stow poo-yeezy”.
- Jean Paul Gaultier – another French designer in our difficult round. His full name, when read, should sound something like this: “zhaan paal gaal-tee ey”
- Roksanda Ilincic: let’s take a break from the usual French and Italian names with a Serbian fashion designer based in London. Her name is pronounced like this: “rock-san-da ill-in-chitch”.
- Vetements – this is a French word that translates to clothes. Georgian fashion designer Demna Gvasalia founded the company. The pronunciation is “vet-mahn”.
- Yves Saint Laurent – probably one of the most difficult fashion brand names to pronounce. It’s another French name, and it goes like this: “eev saan law-raant“.
Congratulations! You’ve Finished Our Name Game!
You’ve made it this far, and we want to congratulate you. By now, you have probably made several observations like how the French and Italian names dominated this list; they are head to head in this game of unpronounceable names. It’s as if it’s a fashion trend in Italy and France for their names to be difficult to pronounce.
It makes me wonder how often people from different countries would mispronounce their names. They’re probably already used to it. It can also be a conversation starter. Anyone with a name that is difficult to read can probably relate to that.
In case you forget any of the proper pronunciation of these names, we don’t blame you. In case you have to say them out loud in the future, you can always just wing it like Nomi in Showgirls did.
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