Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Olympic Figure Skating Dresses and the Girl to Beat

Peggy with her Olympic gold medal won in Grenoble, France, 1968. I love this shot of her!

Since the figure skating events at the Sochi Olympics are underway this week and next, I can’t help but think of skating dresses I have loved on ladies’ singles competitors in past Olympics. It is a very short list.

Peggy Fleming in Grenoble, France, 1968, in her Olympic dress.

Two dresses which I find iconic and emblematic of simpler times in the sport of figure skating were the green dress worn by Peggy Fleming when she won her gold medal in 1968 in Grenoble, France (I wasn’t born then but I have always loved pictures of Peggy from that time), and Dorothy Hamill’s red dress which she wore when she won her gold medal in Innsbruck, Austria in 1976. Note how they are nearly identical in style, with jeweled neckline and sleeve cuffs, in solid colors, with no other embellishment.

Dorothy Hamill in Innsbruck, Austria, with her 1976 Olympic gold medal. Adorable!

The only other skater whose Olympic dresses I loved was Nancy Kerrigan.

I thought this neon yellow dress she wore during her short program at the 1992 Olympic games in Albertville, France was terrific. She won a bronze medal that year.

Nancy in her short program at the 1992 Olympics. Photo by Rick Stewart.

At the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, I adored the black and white dress she wore for the short program, with its black velvet bands at the bodice, sheer sleeves which ended in a beaded cuff, and the open back. Elegant and gorgeous!

Nancy at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. Photo by Getty Images.

I love the black and white, sheer sleeves, and the open back. Photo source.

And that stunning champagne-colored dress she wore for her long program is the most gorgeous skating costume I have ever seen. It sparkled from every angle and was glorious. I remember being blown away when Nancy took to the ice for her freeskate wearing that dress. I still love it, twenty years later!

My favorite skating dress of all time. Nancy Kerrigan, Lillehammer, 1994. Photo by Chris Cole.

Both of Nancy’s dresses that year were by Vera Wang, who did an outstanding job designing for her. Nancy won the silver medal at the Lillehammer Olympics.

I feel like skating dresses reflect their time and the fashions of the day, to some degree, though there can be wide differences in looks depending on the skater’s personal style, country of origin, and the music she is skating to.

As for the Sochi games, I have seen a few dresses I’ve liked but my favorite so far has been the red and gray dress worn by 15-year-old Russian skater Yulia Lipnitskaya. I give high marks to the red and gray dress she wore for the long program in the team event. She skated to John Williams’ score for the movie Schindler’s List and gave a heart-stopping performance.

Yulia Lipnitskaya. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe.

This dress combines tailoring with softness. Perfection! Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Europe.

I loved everything about the dress she wore, from the color, to the combination of tailored bodice and chiffon skirt with its thin edge of beading, the very subtle use of sequins, and the sheer gloves.

Photo by Matthew Stockman.

Have a look at this dress and this girl because by the night of February 20, 2014, when the ladies skate their long programs, Yulia could very well become the ladies’ Olympic champion. It will be well-deserved!

Photo by Matthew Stockman.

Do you recall any standout dresses on women, American or not, who competed in the Olympic figure skating ladies’ singles championship?


Coulda shoulda woulda said...

Love figure skating so much that a few years ago I took lessons to learn how to twirl properly! But I have to add Katarina Witt to the list! She was a beauty and look great in her sequins! xx

Angele Style said...

I agree with EVERYTHING you said in this post!!! Thank you for the glorious photos and content.

Jill said...

Hi Naomi, all this figure skating watching makes me want to take lessons again. Katarina's "Carmen" costume at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary was a good one, wasn't it? Thanks for the reminder! XO, Jill

Jill said...

Hi Angele, did you see the pairs skate last night? I had goosebumps over both the Russian pairs, they were so good. They really are the best in that event. XO, Jill

Paula Ruta said...

I love all the costumes you mentioned, and could talk for HOURS. About them all --as well as wardrobe malfuntions with the dancing pairs--.
This year there are so many different styles of cut outs and colors but loving the pink panther one! It was almost a relief not too see bum and crotch shots! Lol

Jill said...

Oh Paula, that is HILARIOUS! My husband was making fun of the same thing. I hated that pink panther outfit, I don't know what the German couple was thinking, it looked ridiculous. I feel like these skaters, all of them, needed to think about where they were performing--in Russia, home of a deep-seated love of classical music and ballet! So much of the skating I'm seeing seems like exhibition-style skating, which is not appropriate in competition. Save it for the ice shows, kids! I hope the men, the ice dancers, and the ladies have that figured out as their competitions get underway, but I worry. And Ashley Wagner will do the U.S., and herself, no favors with her short program. XO, Jill

Adrienne Shubin said...

I agree with Paula! Last night, the woman on the American ice dancing team looked like she had a serious wedgie going on. I loved that neon pink Pink Panther number and the red and gray outfit was so gorgeous. It's my favorite so far.
My husband's 2nd (or 3rd) cousin (Courtney Hicks) is an ice skater and was close to qualifying for the Olympics this year but sadly didn't. I bet she could tell some interesting stories about choosing costumes, wardrobe malfunctions and the like!

Jill said...

Hi Adrienne! Yeah, I hear you, it annoys me to no end when I see these gals with half their bottom coming out of their skirts. It makes me crazy in fact, because I know they could ask a dressmaker to fix this problem. I hope that they lose points for this, there is no excuse for this to happen, you know they must have a million run-throughs with the music and costumes!

I am so bummed Courtney didn't qualify and I don't even know her! I would love to know somebody skating in the Olympics, even through a friend. I hope she will have a chance in 2018! XO, Jill

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I really like Kerrigan's B & W one...the older ones are the best!

Jill said...

Hi Pam, yes that black and white dress on Nancy was so good. I think it could still be worn today, it's so timeless and elegant. Are you watching the Olympics much this week? XO, Jill

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

oh I agree with Coulda Woulda Shoulda, I would add Katarina Witt to the mix for costumes, hers were definitely memorable. Nancy K's dresses were lovely too, everyone else would have looked absolutely garish in the 1992 green dress but she looked magnificent.

One ice dance team who had memorable outfits were Paul & Isabelle Duchesnay (Cdn ice dance team who competed for France, she was married to Chris Dean and he did their choreography). Check out their 1988 Olympic 'Savage Rights' free dance on Youtube. :)