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Gisele’s catwalk for the ages and a fashion fail for the Americans. Here are the standout styles of the Olympics opening ceremony

Olympic style watchers take note: 2016 was the year the navy blue blazer and white trousers became the de facto dress code of the opening ceremony parade of nations. It’s a tried and true all-American look that, for at least one night, was adopted by delegations from Argentina, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Iraq, South Korea, Serbia and even Russia (the last of which might have out-prepped them all by outfitting the fellows in natty bowties).

Yes, at the opening celebration of an athletic event there were enough bangin’ colorblocked tracksuits to fill a Florida retirement community. And, yes, plenty of countries managed to put their own unique spin on the preppy staple – our favorites in that regard included Guatemala, which added the same woven pattern in the women’s ponchos to the lapels of the men’s blazers, and Austria, which paired the blue jackets with what appeared to be leather lederhosen.

Six Californians competing in the Olynpics in badminton, soccer, skeet shooting, archery and water polo talk about their long journey to Rio.

But there were so many riffs on the navy blazer it seemed like one long blue blur in which Denmark (blue jackets and trousers for the men, blue blazers over red dresses for the women), Spain (blue blazers and red trousers for men, red blazers and blue trousers for women) and Bermuda (blue blazers and red Bermuda shorts for both) seemed to be staffing the exact same airport rental car counter.

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There was so much navy blazer overload, by the time Team USA finally hit the field, the uber-preppy Polo Ralph Lauren uniforms were so last delegation. Making the Ralph Lauren outfits even more of a fashion fail was the fact that the much hyped electroluminescent jacket worn by flag bearer Michael Phelps looked like little more than 3M reflective tape to TV viewers. (As a general rule of thumb, each country – save the USA – would have been better served to dress everyone in their delegation like their flag bearer.)

There were some sartorial standouts in the sea of sameness, though. Among our favorites:

Croatia’s red and white checkerboard track jackets (which cribbed a pattern from the national flag), rivaled perhaps only by Norway’s jackets, which were a riotous pattern of red and blue camouflage that looked like it had been inspired by watching a hammerhead shark chase a boomerang.

Croatia’s delegation
Croatia’s delegation
(Markus Schreiber / AP )

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Norway’s delegation
Norway’s delegation
(Leon Neal / AFP/Getty Images )

As far as more upscale outfits, Barbados made a memorable entrance in blazing sun yellow blazers and cobalt blue trousers, Cambodia killed it in purple (purple peplum dresses for the women, purple button-front shirts and black trousers for the men) and Poland’s women’s uniforms, which consisted of white sleeveless tops worn under white blazers and paired with pleated skirts in a diaphanous swirl of pink and purple. (The Polish men, unfortunately, came out on the short end of the style stick thanks to salmon-colored trousers worn with what appeared to be pale blue blazers with dark blue arms.)

Barbados’ delegation
Barbados’ delegation
(Esteban Biba / EPA )
Cambodia’s delegation
Cambodia’s delegation
(Pedro Ugarte / AFP /Getty )
Poland’s delegation
Poland’s delegation
(Paul Gilham / Getty Images )

It hardly matters though, because long after the glow of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic torch has faded, there will be one – and only one – fashion moment that will remain. And that’s the image of Brazilian-born supermodel Gisele Bundchen entering Maracana Stadium to the strains of “Girl from Ipanema” and walking, nay strutting, what seemed to be the entire length of the venue in a sequined column dress by Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch, a deep V neckline and a thigh-high slit that left the legs fully exposed.

If modeling was an Olympic sport, Bündchen’s Rio de Janeiro opening ceremony walk Friday night couldn’t have ended any place but the gold medal winner’s podium. 

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Gisele Bundchen walks the Maracana Stadium arena
Gisele Bundchen walks the Maracana Stadium arena
(Jamie Squire / Getty Images )

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me @ARTschorn.

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