I always feel a little (or a lot) uncomfortable when I know that I can’t pronounce something properly – Whether it’s a person’s name, or a place, or a food, or whatever.
When this happens there is always a decision to be made. You can either (a) make it obvious that you can’t pronounce it by absolutely butchering it (on purpose) or (b) Give it a good go and still absolutely butcher it (by accident). I tend to think (a) is a little less awkward than (b), either way it's a situation I would rather not get into.
It seems that Vogue Australia Online agrees. They have just brought out “The Ultimate Pronunciation Guide” to decrease the chances of this happening to you when shopping for designer goods (to be honest, if I could afford to shop all of these designers then I wouldn’t really give a damn that I can’t pronounce their names – but that’s besides the point.) The guide provides phonetic spelling and tips on how to pronounce some difficult designer names. Here are some of my faves:
Correct pronunciation: bal-MAH-n. Refrain from placing too much emphasis on the ‘n’ sound, as ‘n’ should be pronounced softly in French names like Balmain and Lanvin. This is not to be pronounced like the Sydney suburb, 'Balmain'.
Correct pronunciation: jee-VOHN-shee. The 'G' is soft and the 'i' in French has a more rounded pronunciation. The 'ch' is pronounced soft, like 'chaise' rather than 'chair'. In French, the emphasis is placed on the second syllable (in this case, 'ven').
Correct pronunciation: ehr-VAY ley-JAY. As with Hermès, the ‘h’ is silent. In French, the 'r' in 'er' is not pronounced – instead it helps to soften the 'e'. As with the aforementioned rule about emphasis on the second syllable of each word, the 'vé' and 'ger' needs a slight emphasis when pronounced. The 'g' is pronounced soft in French when preceding an 'e'.
Correct pronunciation: pro-enza SKOO-ler (again, a hard ‘c’ sound and a silent ‘h’). The 'ch' is pronounced similarly to the 'ch' in 'school'.
Correct pronunciation: san lor-RAUN. Again, remember the silent 't' in French. For the designer, 'Yves' is pronounced 'eeves'.
Check out the full guide here.
Images: SNOB Fashion blog, iwantbigcloset,Vogue Australia, Google Image search.