Festival of Fashion: The best figure skating outfits at the 2022 Winter Olympics – Stuff.co.nz

This story is part of the Stuff Festival of Fashion, presented by Samsung. See more from the festival here.
Move aside ski racers and snowboarders, and let the rhinestones and studded lycra reign supreme.
Short floaty dresses with bejewelled necklines, mesh, velvet and pants so tight they provide a detailed anatomy lesson, the costumes worn in figure skating competitions at the Winter Olympics make for an exquisite change of scene to the heavy technical gears seen elsewhere at the Games.
While visually stunning (and to some folks uncomfortably revealing), skating outfits must go through a robust process to get to the Olympics, just like their skaters.
They’re designed to enhance the performance and theme, but they are also built for performance, with countless tests to ensure each costume withstands the extreme flexibility of the athletes and astonishing shows of strength when hurtling oneself multiple times throughout the air.
In my days as a competitive figure skater, the ‘dress reveal’ on ice was an exciting moment, but one also filled with dread in case the gorgeous blinged-up sparkly little number turned out highly impractical, restricting and surprisingly suffocating.
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Outfits need enough stretch to move freely, but stitching, rhinestones and clasping must be absolutely secure to prevent a wardrobe malfunction – which has been known to happen during Olympic performances, resulting in desperate efforts to retain one’s modesty while still giving the performance of a lifetime.
For women, the skirts allow the skater to move unrestricted and elegantly, to enhance their lines and showcase the outrageous flexibility required for spins such as the Haircutter or Biellmann.
And those tight pants the men wear? Skaters need as little resistance as possible to pass three or four tight rotations seamlessly in the air, without the risk of a skate blade getting caught in a flapping trouser leg.
The tightness, showing off the famous ‘skater bum’ of expertly trained gluteal muscles, also allows judges to see the extension in the legs in certain moves and spins. Lines are crucially important in this sport. Add some mesh and velvet to your shirt and ta-da! You’re on your way to the podium.
Here are some of the eye-catching numbers so far from Beijing.
It takes quite some confidence for a man to pull off a bright orange unitard with a plunging bejewelled neckline, but if anyone can do it, it would be an ice dancer skating to Elton John.
Canadian pair Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier channelled their best Elton energy as they twizzled their way down the ice in tangerine in the Rhythm Dance to I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues in what looked like a human version of an intricate kaleidoscope.
Skating to a medley of Daft Punk songs from Random Access Memories, Madison Chock and Evan Bates nailed the ‘otherworldly’ brief with a beautiful alien-like performance, thanks to Chock’s unique outfit and styling.
Her grey mesh dress with attached gloves, piping, pearls and crystals apparently took more than 100 hours to make, designer Mathieu Caron shared on Instagram.
Bates wore a navy quilt shirt and matching pants, together creating a stunning out-of-space performance that sent them straight to the top of the ice dance table in the Team Event.
I love blue glitter. I often get blue and black glitter on my nails. It’s bold, sexy and a little bit badass. So US skater Karen Chen’s black dress with black mesh sleeves, gloves and a blue glitter neckline was the perfect accessory to her fierce footwork.
Skating her short programme in the Team Event, the 22-year-old fell on her triple loop jump and had to work hard in her spins and footwork sequence to make up for the deduction. And that’s what this outfit represents – sheer grit and determination, with a sassy slick of bright red lippy for an extra touch of ferocity.
The golden girl of the women’s competition so far, the Russian 15-year-old has had an historic Olympic debut, becoming the first woman to land a quad jump in the Winter Olympics, and only the fourth to land a triple axel.
Bold enough to tackle Ravel’s Bolero (perhaps one of the most cliché ice skating songs thanks to Torvill and Dean), black tights elongated the leggy powerhouse, with a red and black mesh dress with a deep V open back.
Red gloves completed the look with a pop of colour, helping draw attention to a stunning mid-air position with arms overhead during her quad salchow. Don’t mess with her.
I love seeing female skaters break the sport’s usual dress code for women. Canada’s Vanessa James has never shied away from a bodysuit and her performance with partner Eric Radford to Harry Styles’ Falling was another example of a slick look in a navy one-piece, with a low cut front lined with blue rhinestones and a keyhole back.
Paired with Radford’s conservative high neckline, the outfits showcased beautiful long lines and shapes in a controlled performance. James’ short hair also makes a change from the buns and matching hair pieces of the majority of female skaters. More of this, please.
The Latin heartthrob has become the first Mexican skater to ever qualify to the final round of figure skating at the Winter Olympics.
Donning head-to-toe black with a gold rhinestone chevron pattern down his chest, complete with studded shoulders, the 22-year-old dazzled viewers as he became a trailblazer for his country – apparently training in the lead-up on an undersized rink in a shopping mall. Extra points for his delightfully cute grin.
It would be a crime to write a figure skating article without mentioning the utter delight that is Jason Brown, a living embodiment of artistry on ice.
The US skater doesn’t have the most technically difficult programme but boy, does he know how to perform to a crowd. Wearing a high neck black mesh top, with asymmetrical strips of studded black velvet, his outfit elongates his torso while showing off his impeccable posture and strength in his upper back, so we can enjoy every inch of his choreography and finesse.
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