When I was young, my Mom had quite a few pairs of shoes and purses by Etienne Aigner (high style for our town). Learning the proper pronunciation of the Aigner brand (on-YAY) coupled with the Spanish words I learned from Sesame Street were probably my first encounters with a foreign language (sorry, Pennsylvania Dutch doesn’t count). But there were some in our neighborhood who pronounced Aigner (agg-nerr). Perhaps it was just an early case of “francophobia” or maybe they really did not know the proper pronunciation.
Fast forward two decades later to today’s fashion scene and names like: Bottega Venta (VEN-e-ta), Alber Elbaz for Lanvin (al-BEAR el-BAHZ for lon-VAN), Loewe (LO-ee-VAY) and Jean Paul Gaultier (zhan paul GO-tee-AY) have flooded the American marketplace. And to think that people had a tough time with Aigner!
It is obvious that the average consumer or wanna be fashionista finds their “r’s and l’s ” rolling the wrong way – because websites like Zappos feature Brand Pronunciation Sound Clips (click here for the Etienne Aigner). The Wall Street Journal online fashion section recently featured this same topic (source of phonetic spellings).
Following is a excerpt from the DJPremium Blog on Brand Pronunciation – just in case you ever wanted to know :)
Badgley Mischka: Badge-lee Meesh-ka
Bottega Veneta: Bo-tega Ven-e-ta
Burberry Prorsum: Bur-bur-ree Pror-some
Carolina Herrera: Caro-leena Hair-era
Cesare Paciotti: Che-sah-ray Pah-cho-tee
Christian Louboutin: Loo-boo-tin
Dries Van Noten: Drees Van Know-ten
Ermenegildo Zegna: Er-men-a-geel-do Zen-ya
Gareth Pugh: Gareth Pew
Giles Deacon: Jy-els Dee-kin
Giambattista Valli: Gee-ahm-battista Valley
Hedi Slimane: Eddy Sli-mahn
Hervé Léger: Air-vay Lay-jay
Joeffer Caoc: Joe-fur Kay-ock
Junya Watanabe: Joon-ya Wah-tah-nah-bay
Lanvin: Lon-vin(“vin” also rhymes with the French word for “wine”)
Louis Vuitton: Loo-ee Voo-ee-ton
Madame Gres: Madame Gray
Monique Lhullier: Mo-neek Loo-lee-ay
I suppose if you are wearing the clothes, shoes and perfumes, you should at least want to pronounce the name properly!
And remember if you order the salade Nicoise – do not pronounce it (nee-kwaw) like I so confidently did years ago – only to be humbled by a young, bored waitress – “oh, you mean (sa-LAHD nee-SWAH).” HH
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