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Paris couture meets Strictly Come Dancing in the rhythmic gymnastics

This Olympics has offered a smorgasbord of hot fashions. Lashings of smashing yellow Nike trainers, Chanel earrings, arm warmers, nail art and Louis Smith’s hair. If all this style goodness wasn’t enough, then the rhythmic gymnastics (isn’t that the jazziest sounding sport name ever?) and the team synchronised swimming outfits have sent things even higher through the sartorial sports roof.

Hula hoops, last seen being put through their paces by Grace Jones at both the Queen’s jubilee concert and Lovebox Sunday, took centre stage at the rhythmic gymnastics. Alongside twirling ribbons, bouncy rubber balls and colourful club-style batons, the hula hoop is not just part of the rhythmic gymnast’s routine but further evidence that all the best sports have a power accessory these days. Think visor-fronted cycling helmets or mirrored swimming goggles.

The rhythm-gym outfits themselves are also special: a collision between Paris couture and Strictly. Cue leotards with (disco) attitude featuring crystals and sheer sections, high collars and peplum-like frills. Tidy buns finish off this look while bold makeup is key. China’s Deng Senyue gets a special mention for her double-coloured eye shadow, as stolen from the Prada autumn/winter catwalk.

Embellishment is also a big deal in fashion right now. It’s a look that Ukraine’s Alina Maksymenko and her deco-like shimmering black leotard, complete with Gucci overtones and a gold hula hoop, totally nailed. Not to be outdone, the British team gave it plenty in the colour-blocking department by clashing their bright blue costumes with highlighter pen neon yellow performance balls.

Rhythmic gymnastics made its Olympic debut at the Los Angeles 1984 Games, though it first appeared during the 19th century. The routines, performed to music, have evolved to incorporate a mix of disciplines, from classical ballet to German muscle-building and Swedish exercises. Along with team synchronised swimming it is one of only two female-only sports.

The synchro-swimmers employ many similar fashion techniques to the rhythm gymnasts, swapping hoops for ritzy swimming caps, nose clips and fancy hair accessories. Britain’s team swimming costume is a gloriously outlandish thing with its curly graphic shapes in pink, purple and black, plus sparkles. In fact, it’s like a fashion love child between London fashion week designers Giles Deacon and Christopher Kane, only with added outlandishness.

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