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Me Talk Pretty One Day: Fashion Designer Pronunciation Guides

Mar12

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Hey Amy! OK… this isn’t REALLY a beauty question. But I thought I’d call on your unflappable expertise anyway. Anyway, I LOVE fashion, love beauty products, basically love anything that gives me that little ray of hope that someday I could be some amazing glamour-mama. But, here’s the deal. I always feel like such a tool when I am trying to have a conversation about designers and the like. I never took French (or any other language other than German, and there ain’t too many Deutschlanders out there rockin the fashion world. OK- I forgot Miss Aufweidersehn Klum…). I am one of those people who used to call Givenchy, Giv-en-chee, for God’s sake. I finally got the correct pronounciation of Louboutin from Oprah. So, would you help me, the hapless Anglo, and provide a guide for correctly pronouncing all those fabulous designers and brands?
Sincerely,
Tongue-Tied in Tacoma

I would love to provide a guide, if by “provide” you mean “link to guides that already exist.” Especially since I can stare at a dictionary-like pronunciation all day with the stress marks and umlauts and whatever else and still butcher the word — I need to hear it.
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Luckily for us both, there are some people on the Internet who know how to use their computer’s microphone and have recorded audio-based guides to designer brand names. Because trust me, you’re not the only person who has gushed over a gorgeous Hermies scarf. (Hint! It’s actually more like AIR-mess, only you know…more French.)
Oh, and then we have the people who say Ralph LauREN. Dudes, his first name is RALPH. His real last name is LIFSHITZ. What part of any of that suggests you need to fancify his last name up?
Check out the YouTube account for the Imperial Hotel Management College — they’ve got three- and four-second videos demonstrating the correct pronunciations for 61 different luxury brand names. My only problem with this guide is that the demonstrators have heavy French and Italian accents, which can sometimes make it tough to figure out how to imitate it without sounding a tad pretentious. But after a few listens, even “Ermenegildo Zegna” doesn’t sound that daunting anymore.
If you’ve got RealPlayer and a good pop-up blocker, About.com has an audio-only list that includes a few designers that IHMC missed.
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And if your computer’s speakers are busted or you need to cram before a happy hour and don’t want your cubicle-mate to know what you’re doing, check out the Budget Fashionista’s phonetic guide for a ton of top designers. Part one covers A-G, part two covers H-M, and part three covers the rest of the alphabet.
AND FINALLY, if there’s still a brand that you’re unsure about that isn’t covered in any of the above guides (I think I noticed Etienne Aigner was missing) (ET-tea-en AHN-yay), Zappos.com also has a clean and simple audio feature for all of the many, many shoe and hangbag lines it carries. Just search by brand and look for the “Brand Pronunciation” link near the center of the page. Wikipedia sometimes does too.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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2 Responses to “Me Talk Pretty One Day: Fashion Designer Pronunciation Guides”

  1. jomama Mar 12 at 10:52 am Reply Reply

    Good thing I’ve never had to say Etienne Aigner out loud before. And Givenchy isn’t Giv-en-chee? I think I need to check out those links.

  2. Travelphile Mar 13 at 2:22 pm Reply Reply

    Givenchy is pronounced with a soft French G. Very hard to spell out. Closest I can come is Zhee-vahn-she. The YouTube link that Amy posted has the correct pronunciation.
    Also Amy, THANK YOU for calling out people who say Ralph LauREN. So annoying!

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