Fashion

From "Her-mez" to "Ralph Lo-REN": the fashion brand pronunciations we're all getting wrong

Posted by
Harriet Hall
Published

According to a study by etiquette aficionados, Debretts, most of us are pronouncing the most renowned fashion labels completely incorrectly.

The Mayfair-based company, who regularly assist people on the correct pronunciation of tricky surnames, have published the correct pronunciation to ten brands, after endless enquiries they have received over the past decade.

If you’re reading this thinking ‘oh please, I certainly don’t do that’, then read on – you might be surprised.

Incorrect pronunciations are not reserved for French names such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton and but also include American brands such as Ralph Lauren, and British companies like Gieves & Hawkes.

French house, Lanvin, did come out on top, though, as the most commonly mispronounced word, with many people pronouncing it phonetically, as ‘Lan-vin’ when the actual pronunciation should be ‘lohn-vahn’. 

Alaia

'You don't understand, this is an Alaia'

Unsurprisingly, makers of the iconic Kelly and Birkin bags, Hermes, ranked high on the list, too.

Debrett’s Style and Image adviser, Ines da Silva, says:

“Hermès is the one brand which if you’re not careful, can really show you up. Amazingly, some people pronounce it exactly as it’s written which is a real ‘no no’, but there’s a further subtlety to the word too. Even if you break the word in two, as you should do, it should finish with an ‘ess’ sound and not a soft ‘ez’. This is something that a lot of people in Anglo-Saxon countries are not aware of.”

Eccentric Italian label, Moschino, ranked second, with many people saying the ‘sc’ as a soft sound, when in fact it should be ‘mos-key-no.’

Savile row tailors, Gieves and Hawkes was often incorrectly called ‘jeeves’ as opposed to the correct hard ‘g’ sound of ‘Geeves.’

Perhaps most unexpected name on the list is American sportswear designer, Ralph Lauren, whose surname is often believed to be ‘lo-REN’ when in fact is, like the woman’s name, ‘LAUR-en.’

Italian brand Versace, famously mispronounced as ‘Ver-sase’ by aspiring-star, Nomi in Showgirls (1995) is in fact, ‘Vur-sah-tcheh.’

So, you might walk the fashion walk but if you want to talk the fashion talk, be sure to consult this list first: 

debretts