So…What's Up with Figure Skaters' Outfits?


A piece in the L.A. Times claims a lot of skaters dress totally well. Off the ice.

Never mind the prowess and guts it takes to land an axel. Many sports fans simply can’t see past skating’s aesthetic, which combines the flash of competitive ballroom dancing with the final scene of “Xanadu.”…In recent years, the more-is-more mantra has been particularly acute in the men’s competition. While top female skaters such as Yu-Na Kim and Rachael Flatt have struck a pretty and traditional tone with their costumes, theatrical garb that “tells a story” is en vogue among the guys, with designs that have no antecedent in modern fashion. Tailored masculinity, once the hallmark of the sport, is rare, if not downright passé.

Women’s costumes have always been pretty crazy – lycra lends itself to sheen, sparkle crates an illusion of speed, and many skaters, especially of the Russian school, feel a costume is necessary to “telling a story” – but before ’03 men could actually get points deducted for excessive garishness or showing a lot of chest. Nowadays, the sky’s the limit, and Johnny Weir is the exemplar of lavish costumes.

His designer tastes are legendary — Weir has modeled for Heatherette runway shows and dares you to try prying the Balenciaga work bag from his hands. But on the ice, the costumes he co-designs have a certain sartorial madness, much to his delight. At the Turin Games, he wore a shimmery swan costume, replete with a single red glove that he referred to lovingly in press conferences as “Camille.” Since then, he’s sported enough mesh, lace and rhinestones to exhaust the inventory of a crafts store.

While Weir says “excess is necessary,” and that “if you’re a figure skater, you should wear a figure skating costume,” there’s surely got to be more than just sartorial mixed feelings about the trend. Figure skating, after all, can already have a hard time getting respect as a sport without the aid of pirate costumes. Costumes are frequently balletic; now ballets are frequently minimalist. And yet, it seems the trend is away from minimalism, towards increasing showmanship. Which is surely going to attract a generation of magpie-like children, but what about their parents?

The pull of the sequined vortex [LA Times]

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