02 February 2010

Lysacek Teams up with Fashion Designer, Skating Fan Vera Wang

USA Today
Mid-February is Fashion Week in New York City and clearly the organizers did not have the Olympics in mind when they scheduled Vera Wang's show on Feb. 16.

That night the men's short program will be held in Vancouver and Wang would love to be there. "My fashion show is at 11 (a.m.) and we all know that won't start until 11:30, if we're lucky depending on the show before me, I'm trying my best," she says. "I would love to be there to root him on and watch a sport that I so love."

Him would be Evan Lysacek who hopes to win the first gold medal for the U.S. men in 22 years. Wang, once an elite figure skater herself, designed Lysacek's costumes.

She won her first regional championship at 12 and twice competed at the U.S. Championships, placing fifth in 1968 in junior pairs. Last year she was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame for her work designing costumes for Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan.

Wang returned to the ice last fall when she met with Lysacek at a New York City rink to begin work on his costumes. She thought she would have until last month's nationals to finish them. "I thought, 'Oh, I can just coast around here, we don't have to have it done until January.' And he said, 'No I need the costumes two weeks from now.' So we moved into real freak-out mode."
That day on the ice, Lysacek was wearing a black turtleneck and black pants. "When I saw him in black I said, 'If I could send you in a turtleneck and a pair of pants, that would make me really happy.'"

"He has a line, he would probably admit that it's harder to rotate and do jumps than for guys who are shorter and more compact. But he has a beautiful line and he's learned to use that line and I think he was very conscious of me wanting to preserve that line."

The costumes for both programs are black, "a sleek and sexy color," he says. "It was exciting and really cool that she took so much interest and really took pride in this project and took it on full steam."

This was Wang's vision for both costumes:

• For the short program, skating to Firebird by Stravinsky:

"The obvious way to go would have been red with orange flames. I so didn't want Firebird to be literal. I wanted Firebird for him to be modern and sophisticated. It's so incredibly dramatic. The choice he made to skate to that said volumes about him.

"To see Evan take the courage and desire to grow as an expressive skater I think was very, very brave and very hard to do in eight months. That's the biggest change in him. I don't know what prompted him, whether it was emotional growth or courage because he won worlds, it takes a lot of courage to let go in anything, even in fashion.

"To be able to let go and say 'I really want to do what I want to express, not do what I think I should do.'

"The short program costume that he wore in nationals, which came directly out of ready-to-wear, was all silk, multilayered and curved around his body. It was really to be looked at as he moves around. Skating is a circular sport. They are always moving. I wanted to get the idea of wrapping his body in fabric.

"Simple, simple pants but with a seam down the front, like men's pants, so it gave it a little toughness. We wanted him close to that black turtleneck idea as possible."

• For the long program, skating to Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade:

"The costume he wore at nationals was there to show his body. There was a cage around his shoulders, that's really all there is to say, except the workmanship is unbelievable.

"I have no idea what he's going to wear at the Olympics. He's worn all of them at least once. No skater goes into the Olympic year without wearing their costume once. The costumes are not about Vera Wang. They are about me translating Evan Lysacek.

I'm there hopefully to bring creativity but we worked together. This was Evan Lysacek pushing Vera Wang also."

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