There is nothing more embarrassing than walking into a designer's boutique and mispronouncing the designer and/or the line. Generally, the Haute-er the designer, the more difficult the pronunciation becomes to the naive eye.
But did you really just call that Hermès Birkin a Her-mees Birkin? No matter how God-like Hermès may seem to you, don't you dare pronounce it after the Greek God Hermes.
As for my stand on butchering designers names...we all do it at least once. Let's be honest here. There was a time and place long, long ago when even Anna Wintour may have goofed up the "loo" in Lhuillier.
It's one thing if you are an embarrassing nobody and were ignorantly mimicking the designer by not caring to learn the pronunciation of the name in any version but your own ridiculous creation - please escort yourself out of the boutique immediately and don't ever let the designer's name hit your lips ever again.
It's a completely different story if you really had no idea how to pronounce the name of your favorite designer because the only opportunity you've had to fall in love with the line was through the various editorials in Vogue or other fashionable sources - you just need a little guidance.
Let me educate you on the correct pronunciation of some of the designers' names that can be a little tricky. Memorize this. I can tell you right now, that your amazing "Hooked on Phonics" technique you learned as a child won't always work when dealing with Couture.
This guide will give you complete confidence in verbally appreciating the dear designers and/or their lines...
Haute Couture Pronunciation Guide
Haute - [oht]
Couture - [koo-toor; Fr. koo-tyr]
Abaete - [Ah-bye-ah-tay]
Andrew Gn - [Andrew Jen]
Anna Sui - [Anna Swee]
Ann Demeulemeester - [Ann De-mule-eh-meester]
Badgley Mischka - [Badge-lee Meesh-kah]
Balenciaga - [Bah-len-see-aga]
Balmain - [Bahl-mahhhhn]
Behnaz Sarafpour - [Beh-nozz Sa-rah-fur]
Bottega Veneta - [Bow-tay-guh Vah-netta]
Christian Lacroix - [Christian Luh-qua]
Comme des Garcons - [Comb-day-gar-sewn]
Dries Van Noten - [Drees Van Know-ten]
Gareth Pugh - [Gareth Pew]
Giambattista Valli - [Gee-am-bah-tease-ta Valley]
Gianfranco Ferre - [Gee-ahn-franco Feh-ray]
Givenchy - [Jee-von-shee]
Hermes - [Er-mez]
Hussein Chalayan - [Hoo-sane Sha-lion]
Issey Miyake - [Iss-ee Mee-yah-key]
Jean Paul Gaultier - [Zhon Paul Go-tee-ay]
Junya Watanabe - [June-yah Wot-uh-nah-bee]
Lanvin - [Lahn-vahhhh...n]
Louis Vuitton - [Louie Vwee-tahhhhh...n]
Marchesa - [Mar-kay-sah]
Miu Miu - [Myoo Myoo]
Monique Lhuillier - [Monique Loo-lee-ay]
Moschino - [Mos-key-no]
Olivier Theyskens - [Oh-liv-ee-ay Tay-skins]
Proenza Schouler - [Pro-en-zuh Skool-er]
Rochas - [Row-shah]
Rodarte - [Row-dar-tay]
Sonia Rykiel - [Sewn-ya Ree-key-el]
Thakoon - [Tuh-koon]
Versace - [Vur-sah-chee]
Yigal Azrouel - [Yee-goll Az-roo-el]
Yohji Yamamoto - [Yo-gee Yom-ah-mow-toe]
Yves Saint Laurent - [Eve Sane Laurennnnn...t]
I hope this list helped clear a few vowels up in your Couture pronunciation and made you realize maybe the designer or two who you've been butchering of all these years (hey, even I still can't completely get down Junya Watanabe without saying Junya Wanna-tanna-be).
Now go tell all of your friends about that fabulous dress you bought at Givenchy, not Guh-vin-chee!
List of pronunciation for designers used above via Glamour Magazine's article The Official STF Guide to Hard-To-Pronounce Designer Names