See the Figure Skating Costumes for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics – WWD

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are underway, as are its competitions in figure skating, one of the Games’ most beloved sports.

The rhinestones and cascading chiffon of figure skating costumes at this year’s Olympics will color what is believed to be the deepest realm in the sport’s history, with the first women’s quads landed on Olympic ice and a potential attempt of the first quadruple axel landed in competition.

As the world’s best figure skaters compete on a global scale each year, the Olympics are their sport’s biggest stage, attracting widespread attention, fame and potential endorsement deals. Their costumes, in many ways, are an indelible part of the medal-winning image, integral to the imagery that will define the winning skaters’ careers.

But the average viewer often doesn’t know that top skaters wear their costumes in competitions for months before the Olympics. Little is left to chance and skaters use competitions like the Grand Prix circuit not only to qualify for Olympic team spots, but also to get a feel for costumes and make adjustments for overall comfort and presentation. .

“It’s rare [that a skater would debut a new costume at the Olympics]it’s a bit of a risk,” said figure skating costume designer Josiane Lamond, who has created looks for former Olympic contenders including two-time U.S. champion Gracie Gold and 2010 Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim.

Although costumes do not trump athletic elements in the scoring system, skating is a subjective sport that also awards points for choreography and performance. It’s also a reason for skaters to see how a suit performs in Olympic construction. “The skater has to be very comfortable in their costume, but the response from the judges and the skating community couldn’t be good, so it’s a bit of a gamble. If all you see is a bad costume, you can’t see the maximum of the program,” Lamond said.

Skaters wear two costumes in competition – one for their short program and one for the free skate. Most of these looks have already been seen at events earlier in the season, such as last month’s European Championship.

A Russian sweep looks possible for the women’s individual skating podium, with all three disciples of star coach Eteri Tutberidze attempting a combined total of eight quadruple jumps.

Alexandra “Sasha” Trusova, who will be looking to complete half of these elements on her own, has costumes in a palette of red and black, complementing her feisty new hair color and electric skating style. Anna Shcherbakova, considered for her competitive prowess and musicality, has a more elaborate pair of dresses woven with organza and sequin ribbons. The costume most likely to appear atop the catwalk is Kamila Valieva’s tunic-style dress with contrasting red gloves and graphic black tights, created for her ballet rendition of “Bolero” with a planned line-up of three quads. and a triple axel – most of which landed in a characteristic arabesque “spiral” position.

Lamond said it resembled US Champion Mariah Bell’s blue velvet short program dress; Belgian rising star Loena Hendrickx’s nude-colored mini dress and Japanese champion Kaori Sakamoto’s watercolor freeskate dress evoke the “very elegant and feminine” look characteristic of skaters from North America, Europe and Asia, which contrasts with the “edgy, intense” look of costumes originating from Russia.

Vera Wang, a former professional figure skater who designed costumes for greats like Michelle Kwan, Nancy Kerrigan and Evan Lysacek, has seen a rapid evolution in skating fashion since her own championship days. The invention of stretch fabric, she said, helped advance the sport toward triple and quadruple jumps — “mind-blowing” elements, which Wang said she “never thought possible, definitely back when I was skating in the 50s and 60s.”

“Skating has always been a telegenic sport because you see someone 360 ​​degrees, but now it’s also become entertainment. People don’t dress to get attention but I think to stand out,” said Wang, who designed this year’s costumes for six-time American champion Nathan Chen in his second Olympic bid.

Wang said she “subliminally” felt extra pressure when creating the Olympic year costumes and paid close attention to quality control. If a single loose thread snags on a shoelace or blade, it could derail an entire program.

Because of this, skaters have specific clothing preferences that contribute to temperature control, mobility, and lightness. “Michelle [Kwan] didn’t like the sleeves and wanted a very lightweight suit, while Nathan [Chen] wants a two-piece suit,” Wang said.

Lamond added that with the advent of quadruple jumps, skaters are looking for lighter and more flexible suits. “A triple axis suit has to weigh less than 500 grams, and that’s not much when beaded all over, so we have to place liners in strategic areas,” she said. Two years ago, Swarovski released crystals that were about 50% lighter, which Lamond now relies on for more advanced skating costumes.

With the stakes for skating so high this year, it’s possible that this year’s Olympics will propel the sport further onto the world stage.

Figure skating is already immensely popular in Japan, South Korea and Russia – where skaters are household names and can earn millions every year through ties to companies like Nike, Puma, Shiseido and Lotte.

Current Japanese Men’s Champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who has a fanatical following, is said to be worth over $13 million, while Yuna Kim is said to have amassed a net worth of over $20 million.

At the 2019 World Championships, Russian skater Evgenia Medvedeva, who won silver at the last Olympics, said: “I represent the biggest sports company in the world, Nike, and in my opinion people are so interested by figure skating because it’s half sport, half art. People are always interested in art, they are always so interested in watching a fight. Figure skating has it all in one place – it’s an art and a struggle. She has since become a major sportscaster in Russia and represents brands ranging from healthy cereals to online shopping.

Medvedeva was also recently spotted at events for Christian Dior, also posting the house’s handbags and accessories on her social media. Given the huge popularity and online resonance of skaters, it looks like luxury and high fashion brands may soon follow the skating promotion bandwagon.