Style Files — 01 July 2008

My name is Makeda Saggau-Sackey. It is a mouthful but I always try to teach people how to prounounce my name the right way. I have been called “Muh-kay-da,” “Ma-kada,” “Matilda,” “Me-kayla,” “Ma-keta” and many more. Most people don’t even attempt to pronounce my last name. For the record it’s Mak’da Sa-gow-Suh-key. Thank my father for the Ethiopian German-Ghanaian name. If I had a dollar for each time my name has been mispronounced, I would be a millionaire by now. I don’t take offense if a person makes the effort to learn how to pronounce my name. It’s a sign of respect because the person cares enough to know my name.

Another set of individuals with the most complicated names are designers and fashion labels. So many people mispronounced some of the most famous designers names but they neglect to really learn the pronunciation. Designers name sometimes get mispronounced in the media. Who’s fault is it to correct those that cannot pronounce Louis Vuitton or Versace or Proenza Schouler? The designers? Media? As a fashionista, I feel the need to teach all my readers the correct pronunciation of designer’s names. It’s not just for the sake of being polite, it also makes you seem smarter and a lot more sophisticated in higher social circles or when you are talking to others in the fashion industry. I have compiled a list with the help of some of my favorite bloggers and websites of some of the most commonly mispronounced designer names. After reading through this, I don’t want anyone pronouncing Ralph Lauren’s last name in the same alliteration as Sophia Lauren. It’s Lauren, like the girl’s name. So read on my darlings because it’s back to Fashion 101.

A

  1. Abaeté: Ah-bye-ah-tay
  2. Alejandro Ingelmo: Allay-handro In-gel-mo
  3. Andrew Gn: Andrew Jen (rhymes with “ten”)
  4. Andy Thê-Anh: An-dee Tay-Ann
  5. Anya Hindmarch: Ahn-ya Heind-march
  6. Arthur Mendonça: Ar-thur Men-doe-sa

B

  1. Badgley Mischka: Badge-lee Meesh-ka
  2. Balenciaga: Bah-len-see-AH-gah
  3. Bottega Veneta: Bo-tega Ven-e-ta
  4. Bulgari: Ball-gah-ree
  5. Burberry Prorsum: Bur-bur-ree Pror-some

C

  1. Cacharel: Cash-er-el
  2. Carolina Herrera: Caro-leena Hair-era
  3. Cesare Paciotti: Che-sah-ray Pah-cho-tee
  4. Chaiken: Chay-ken
  5. Chanel: Shuh-nel
  6. Christian Louboutin: Loo-boo-tin (“tin” rhymes with the French word “vin”)
  7. Christian Dior: Dee-yor
  8. Commes des Garcons: Comb day Garse-on, gentle ‘on’ sound on the end

D

  1. Dolce & Gabbana: Dole-chay
  2. Dries Van Noten: Drees Van Know-ten

E

  1. Ermenegildo Zegna: Er-men-a-geel-do Zen-ya
  2. Etro: Eh-tro

F

  1. Fendi: Fend-ee

G

  1. Gareth Pugh: Gareth Pew
  2. Giles Deacon: Jy-els Dee-kin
  3. Givenchy: Jhee-von-shee
  4. Giambattista Valli: Gee-ahm-battista Valley
  5. Gianfranco Ferre: Sj-yawn-franco Fair-ay
  6. Gucci: Goo-chee
  7. Guy Laroche: Ghee La-roash

H

  1. Haute couture: If you say ‘Hot Kew-ture’ or Kucher, you’ll want to change that to ‘oat ku tour’
  2. Hedi Slimane: Eddy Sli-mahn
  3. Hermès: Air-mez
  4. Hervé Léger: Air-vay Lay-jay
  5. Hussein Chalayan: Who-sane Sha-lion

I

  1. Issey Miyake: Eees-Ay Me-Yah-Kee not Is-he

J

  1. Jean Paul Gaultier: Sj-awn Paul Goat-ee-ay
  2. Joeffer Caoc: Joe-fur Kay-ock
  3. Junya Watanabe: Joon-ya Wah-tah-nah-bay

L

  1. Lacroix: La-kwah
  2. Lanvin: Lon-vin (“vin” also rhymes with the French word for “wine”)
  3. Loewe: Low-ev-ay
  4. Louis Vuitton: Loo-ee Voo-ee-ton
  5. Lucien Pellat-Finet: Lu-see-en Peh-lought Fin-ay

M

  1. Madame Gres: Madame Gray
  2. Marchesa: Mar-kay-sa
  3. Marithe Francois Girbaud: Jer-bo
  4. Mainbocher: Maynbo-shay
  5. Missoni: Miss-own-ee
  6. Moschino: Mo-ski-no
  7. Monique Lhullier: Mo-neek Loo-lee-ay

N

  1. Narciso Rodriguez: Nar-siss-so Ro-dree-gez
  2. Nicolas Ghesquière: Ni-co-la Guess-ki-air

O

  1. Olivier Theyskens: Oli-vier Tay-skins

P

  1. Pierre Cardin: Pee-air Car-dain
  2. Proenza Schouler: Pro-enza Skool-er not Schoo-ler

R

  1. Ralph Lauren: Ralph Lauren (as in Lauren the girl’s name, not Sophia Loren)
  2. Rei Kawakubo: Ray Kah-wah-koo-bo
  3. Rodarte: Ro-dart-tay

S

  1. 6267: Six-two-six-seven (not Sixty-two-sixty-seven)
  2. Sonia Rykiel: Sonia Ree-kee-eel
  3. Sophia Kokosalaki: So-fee-a Ko-ko-sah-lah-kee
  4. Swarovski: swore-off-ski

T

  1. Thakoon: Ta-koon
  2. Thierry Mugler: Tee-air-ree Moog-lay
  3. Tibi: Tbi (not Tee-bee)
  4. Tocca: Toe-ka

V

  1. Versace: Ver-saw-chee or Ver-sawch-eh with a soft ‘eh’ on the end NOT Vur-sace
  2. Vionnet: Vee-oh-nay

Y

  1. Yves Saint Laurent: Eve-san-Laur-ahnt
  2. Yohji Yamamoto: Yo-jee Ya-ma-mo-to

image source

Thanks to the Chic Spy for this list of oh so important designers and their pronunciations. Check her out her blog for more inspirations as well.

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About Author

Makeda Saggau-Sackey is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Glamazon Diaries, which serves as a daily source of fashion news, style advice and a round-up of the most exclusive celebrity events in New York City and Washington, DC. She is also the editor-in-chief of Duchess of Cambridge Style, an online fashion community devoted to chronicling what the former Kate Middleton wears, events she attends and where to get her looks.

(20) Readers Comments

  1. have any idea how to say Francesco Biasia

  2. can anyone help on how to pronounce Francesco Biasia?

  3. what about moet chandon?

  4. You wrote Louis Vuitton’s pronunciation wrong. It’s not Voo-ee ton. It’s just…Vit-ton.

  5. You also ‘mispronounced’ Yves Saint Laurent’s name wrong. It’s more like…Yivs-saint-loh-rent.

  6. Actually hun it’s Eves-san-lo-ron ( don’t pronounce the N).

    And it’s also Loo e voo -e ton (don’t pronounce the n)

    These are French pronunciations not American or Southern twang.

  7. To Rita:

    It’s Fran-chess-co bee-a-siA

  8. I think u pronounce lanvin wrong

  9. ‘haute’ is not pronounced like ‘hot’, it’s pronounced like oat. Look it up: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/haute

  10. The Japanese names are pronounced phonetically with the vowels being how we would sound a,e,i,o,u. Ah, Eh, Ee (as in see), oh (like in goat), and ooh (like moo). Issey Misake would be pronounce Is-say Mi-ya-ke, if it was Eeesay, his name would be spelled Iisey, and the -ke in his last name is not pronounced like key, it's more like the sound in 'kept'. As for Junya Watanabe, everything else is fine except the -be. It's simply -be like in bet, stopping abruptly. If it was pronounced -bay, his name would be spelled Watanabei. For Yohji Yamamoto, the vowel sound in Yoh- is longer.

  11. Sorry, Issey is pronounced more like Ees-say, in case American English speakers forget my first point about the vowel sounds.

  12. A little rich to be lecturing people on pronunciation and sophistication when you have 7 (yes, 7) grammatical mistakes in your opening blurb, and when you've butchered half of the European designers' (apostrophe after the s, sweetheart) names. I honestly don't know where to begin.

    To the champagne question, you do pronounce the 't' in Moet (the name isn't actually French), but the mispronunciation 'Moway' is so ingrained in public consciousness that you'll find people will 'correct' you for pronouncing it.

    And to clear up the Louis argument, it's 'Loo-wee Vwee-ton' (although the n is nasalised so you don't actually pronounce it.

  13. Thank you for the critique Charles. This is a personal blog. If you don't like the grammar or feel there is an error, please feel free to send me an email to correct. Have a great day.

  14. I found it to be a good lesson. Don't understand all the haters.

  15. Some of those are slightly off, Versace for example isn't "Ver-saw-chee or Ver-sawch-eh" it's more like ver-SAH-chay or even more like fair-SAH-chee but not "fair" with an English accent, "fair" as in a soft "v" sound. Most people say "ver-SAH-chee" but it's a "sah" sound not a "saw" sound.

    Olivier is "oh-lee-vee-eh" said quickly, and Vuitton is a cross between "vee-tahn" and "vih-tahn" with a soft french N at the end. Not "voo-ee-ton".

  16. I think it is absolutely wonderful that you have started a pronunciation guide regardless of the fact that there are quite a few pronunciation errors. It would be a great tool for many people if you made a few corrections using proper phonetic transcriptions and syllable stress. I noticed that many of the pronunciations you've provided sound exactly as they are pronounced in the Southern States…made me remember my roots!

  17. how about revillon?

  18. I think this is a very helpful guide… Some may disagree with some of the pronunciations, and if that is the case, perhaps just offer your own pronunciation as an extra, rather than patronizing the writer and displaying such pretentious one-upmanship.

  19. horrible. you don’t say loo-bow-tin! its ton!

  20. Pingback: The Top 10 Mispronounced Designer Names and How to Say Them Correctly - CocoKouture - Fashion, style, and trends - cocokouture.com