Twizzle Talk


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Best Costumes of the Season So Far: Ice Dance

I took a look at the best ladies’ costumes first, but now it’s on to ice dance. This discipline naturally lends itself to more theatrical outfits, with thematic short dances informed by the required rhythm of a given year, and free dances that usually tell a story, whether it’s borrowed from a movie or musical, or it’s one that the couple created to go with their music.

I find that there are lots of fashion extremes in ice dance: the skaters either look fabulous or crazy. So here are a few who I think have looked fabulous this season:

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron – free dance

The French team, now two-time World Champions, haven’t beaten the Canadian Olympic Champions on the comeback trail, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, in two head-to-head meetings this season. But I say they are winning the fashion contest, especially with these beautiful blue creations:

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Image Source: icenetwork.com

papadakis-and-cizeron-blue-costumes

Image Source: dailyherald.com

I had to include this second shot, so you can appreciate the beautiful ombre fade in her skirt. I love that both her dress and his top have nontraditional cuts in the bodice—his especially so, with the sleeveless! He is one of a few men taking advantage of a rule change that allows for sleeveless shirts this year, and I think it works well here. The theme of their program is a bit abstract this year, I think something about working through challenges, so it’s fitting that the costumes have this artsy, ombre vibe. Coolest part of these costumes? Cizeron designs them, according to their interview on the Ice Talk podcast.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje – short dance

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Image Source: insideskating.net

I love how unexpected, original, and fashion-y (that’s a technical term, right?) this look is on Weaver: menswear-inspired shorts, complete with a faux-necklace made of sequins. This works because of the impeccable fit—nothing is ever out of place, at any point in the program. She looks like she is about to hit a red carpet for a music awards show, and the leather accents on Poje’s pants and vest are an excellent complement to her look.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier – free dance

gilles-and-poirier-tango-costumes

Image Source: Getty Images

Piper’s dress is my favorite here. I love that she went with blue for a tango (we usually see red or black), and this particular icy blue is gorgeous. As is the detail on the dress, with the sequined bodice and the gathered, lace skirt. The flower in her hair is a teeeeny bit big, but it keeps the tango character. Paul’s look is only ok here (though I appreciate the commitment with the mustache!)—if the accents in his tie matched the color of her dress, I think I’d be sold.

When watching dance or pairs, I tend to gravitate towards what the girl is wearing first, maybe because I wear/have worn skating dresses myself. I also think the guys usually have simpler looks overall, so your eye can be drawn to the ladies’ beautiful outfits. I tried not to only pay attention to the girls here, and give the guys their due as well. Who is wearing your favorite ice dance costumes this season?

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Best Costumes of the Season So Far: The Ladies

It’s been awhile, blog. But I’m back to discuss something of utmost importance: skating fashions.

The second half of the season is about to kick off, and that tends to be the time of year where skaters switch up their look, or get an awesome new costume just before nationals. Sometimes I think it’s a great idea (see: Sasha Cohen’s gorgeous maroon Olympic free skate dress, compared to the gold she wore earlier in the season), but sometimes I mourn the departure of their first costume (RIP Meryl Davis’s stunning deep blue 2014 free dance dress, swapped for a lilac version for Nationals and the Olympics).

So, before any potential switches, I’m going to take a look back at my favorite costumes of the year (so far). Let’s start with the ladies’ looks that I loved:

Ashley Wagner, long program

ashley-wagner

Image Source: goldenskate.com

The gray ombre in this dress looks fantastic with Ashley’s coloring, and fantastic on the ice. I love how the dress is almost an extension of her and of her movements; it is fitted perfectly and the understated skirt flutters ever so slightly. The simple silhouette is a good contrast to the mega-sparkle factor. Her program, set to “Exogenisis: Symphony Part 3” by Muse, is about coming out on the other side of a dark, difficult emotional experience and the gray evokes that mood.

Evegenia Medvedeva, short program

ISU Junior & Senior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final - Marseille Day 2

Image Source: Excelle Sports

Her music has a river/winter theme, and the intricate beadwork on this dress looks like a river flowing, or even melting snow. I love the color, and appreciate that she didn’t go with a more straightforward blue. This one really pops on the ice. It looks like a river you might find in a watercolor painting, as opposed to in nature. But please, lose the gloves. My hatred of gloves is well-documented here and here.

Elena Radionova, long program

I haven’t always been the biggest Elena fan, in terms of both skating style and costume choice, but this dusty pink number was a game-changer. I love the unique semi-straight skirt, and the subtle gray accents. It’s a nice, more modern touch that the beadwork extends onto the mesh top portion of the dress, and gives the dress more of a runway-fashion look.  Plus, the swept-up bun is the perfect hair choice with this dress, clean and elegant.

Kaetlyn Osmond

Kaetlyn is owning it on the ice this season, with two medals on the Grand Prix circuit and a 4th place finish in a tough Grand Prix Final. And she looks great doing it—calm, confident skating, and sparkly, sleek fashion. I mean, just look at her face in this photo! She is clearly having some fun. And I’m even a fan of the gloves (shocker!), because they fit the French character of her short program so well. Bonus shot of her equally beautiful long program dress:

 

I kind of love the short sleeves—they remind me of a dress I had back in the day, and, based on some Googling, are a more modern take on the typical look for the lead in “La Boheme,” her long program music.

Fingers crossed none of these ladies make a mid-season costume change…but if they do, you’ll probably be hearing about it here on Twizzle Talk. Next up: ice dance!


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Skate Canada Hairstyles

There was some great skating at Skate Canada over the weekend—and some fabulous hair. I tend to notice hairstyles no matter which sport I am watching. I’m not the only one who loved the braids and ponytails that the soccer players rocked at the women’s world cup last summer. And every time I see another football player with flowing locks like this:

Image Source: nflrush.com

I can’t help but think how uncomfortable and sweaty it must be under that helmet. In figure skating, hairstyles are more important than most sports, since it can be part of the “look” of a costume or character. But at the same time, it needs to be practical and keep the hair out of the way during a performance. (Yes, I’m looking at you, female ice dancers who don’t pull your hair back. It’s distracting. And gives fuel to people who think skating is less of a sport.) My hair all-stars of Skate Canada are:

Most Improved: Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Russia

Last year, Elizaveta was always sporting a messy ponytail with lots of visible clips. It was a look that was more “Sunday afternoon at the gym” than “World Figure Skating Champion.” This picture doesn’t even really capture how bad it was:

Image Source: olympics.nbcsports.com

This year, she has come out much more polished, with a braided look. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good pictures of it, but you can get the gist here:

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com

MVP: Ashley Wagner, USA

Ashley has been a pretty consistent bun-wearer for the past few years, except for the polished ponytail in her Pink Floyd short program. I loved seeing her switch it up here, with the side part and twists into the bun. The red color also suits her much more than the really light blonde she had going on last year, in terms of both appearance and her sassy personality. Here’s a side view of the ‘do:

Image Source: wtop.com

Best Short Hairstyle: Meagan Duhamel, Canada

It is pretty rare to see a female figure skater with short hair. Short hair is difficult to pull back and limits your style options if you are going for a specific character. Canadian pairs skater Meagan Duhamel probably has the most well-known short hair in skating these days, and sometimes even she has bad hair days (like this overly curly situation at the Sochi Olympics). But I loved her look at Skate Canada; enough volume that it didn’t look flat or boring, but not so much that her hair overshadowed the rest of her.

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Most Eye-Catching: Adam Rippon, USA

I can’t do a post about figure skating hairstyles this season without mentioning Adam Rippon’s gray locks:

Image Source: thefinersports.sportsblog.com

There was lots of chatter over the summer about this look; whether he’d dye it back before the competition season started, and whether it would be off-putting to the (sometimes old-fashioned) judges. While I’m not the biggest fan of the look of the gray, I will give him props for staying true to his own style. I just don’t love hair colors that were clearly created in a bottle and not in nature.

Who sported your favorite looks at Skate Canada? Am I wrong about ladies who leave their hair down? (It would take a lot to convince me of that…) Share your favorites in the comments!


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Fashion Friday on Flashback Friday

For this week’s Flashback Friday, rather than reminiscing about a favorite skating performance, I thought I’d go with my two favorite skating costumes. When I was around 11 or 12 years old, it was my dream to grow up to be a figure skating dress designer. I had taken one after-school sewing class–where I made a blanket and a pair of pajama pants (which ended up being several inches too short because I mismeasured the fabric)–so I thought I was well on the way to my goal. And the two dresses I’m about to write about were definitely the kind of costumes I saw myself creating. Now, be forewarned, because there is a trend here. And it’s a sparkly one. In no particular order, my two favorite skating dresses of all time (so far) are:

Nancy Kerrigan’s long program dress at the 1994 Olympics

Image Source: starcentralmagazine.com

And Sarah Hughes’ long program dress at the 2002 Olympics

Image Source: NY Daily News

These two are my favorites in terms of pure beauty and style. They both pop against the white ice–Nancy’s with the nearly 12,000 rhinestones and Sarah’s with the lavender color. Nancy’s dress is (very famously) a Vera Wang creation and Sarah’s was designed by renowned skating dress designer Jef Billings. To me, these dresses are quintessential ‘figure skating.’ Glamorous, beautiful, and they complement the skater’s body movement without being distracting (and you skating fans know how distracting some bad dresses can be). The detail on both of these dresses is also impeccable.

There are other costumes that I love that perfectly fit the character of a program without being the most beautiful dress. Sasha Cohen’s 2006 short program gypsy dress comes to mind. Not only was it a stunning color, but it immediately established the gypsy character of the program, skated to a Russian folk ballad, “Dark Eyes.”

Image Source: sfgate.com

In the case of my two favorites, neither skater was portraying a specific or well-known character, so the dress could be inspired by fashion rather than a character’s dress or costume. Taken on their own, both Nancy’s and Sarah’s dresses are beautiful works of art and don’t need the musical or character explanation that some other skating costumes do.

What are some of your favorite dresses? Or men’s costumes? I’ve got a few favorites on that front too, so stay tuned for that in a later post. Since I never did pick up enough sewing skills to create these beauties, I’ll stick to admiring them from afar.


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Fashion Friday: Mid-Season Costume Changes

The World Team Trophy wrapped up the 2014-15 season last weekend, so now I’m taking a look back at some of the fashion decisions of the year. A number of skaters made costume changes mid-season and I’m weighing in on whether it was the right decision.

Costume changes can occur for a variety of reasons. Maybe the first one didn’t go over well with the fans or the judges. Some skaters get rid of costumes they wore during a terrible performance, trying to shed the bad memories and maybe even the bad luck. This season, we had mostly Americans switching up their looks:

Gracie Gold – Third Time’s The Charm?

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Image Source: UniversalSports.com

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Image Source: teamgraciegold.tumblr.com

Image Source: nickverrreos.blogspot.com

3. When I blogged about my favorite costumes earlier in the skating season, Gracie Gold’s purple free skate dress was at the top of the list. It reminds me of the dress that her BFF Taylor Swift wore when she performed at a fundraiser with Prince William at Kensington Place in London. Perhaps there was a little bestie fashion inspiration there? Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough for Gold to keep the dress. She showed up at Four Continents with a slightly altered version—a higher neckline and a flower embellishment on the front. I wasn’t a big fan of this version. Actually, I was pretty shocked and dismayed to see it. It made the dress look too youthful and added unnecessary bulk to the airy lace. When Gold took the ice at Worlds, she showed off a different look entirely. Very glamorous, very sophisticated. The high-fashion look suited her well, but my one complaint was that the dress didn’t look very well-made. The shoulder clasps were too clunky and needed to be more seamless. There were only a few weeks between Four Continents and Worlds, so maybe there was a rush to get it finished.

Maia Shibutani – Dark Blue vs. Light Blue

Image Source: zimbio.com

Image Source: zimbio.com

Fellow American Maia Shibutani debuted a new light blue free dance dress at U.S. Nationals that she wore for the remainder of the season. If I hadn’t seen her first dress, I think I would have liked this one. The dark blue dress Maia wore for the beginning of the season was perfection—it completely fit the character of their waltz music, looked great on her, and the color popped on the ice. While the light blue is a pretty color, the sheer panels on the bodice didn’t seem to go with the heavy, full skirt. I think the original dress was the better choice.

Madison Chock & Evan Bates – Back in Black

Image Source: teamusa.org

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates took a modern approach to the costumes for their An American in Paris free dance. They told teamusa.com that they wanted to tell the story as if it took place in 2014, and the asymmetrical touches on their costumes definitely conveyed that. I thought it was an interesting approach and had a pretty neutral attitude towards it until their costume change at Four Continents:

Image Source: avaxnews.net

These costumes look like practice outfits that someone threw sequins on with a bedazzler. The original ones were much more sleek, and I was glad to see them return to that look at Worlds.

Jason Brown – First is the Worst, Second is the Best

Image Source: teamusa.org

Image Source: usatoday.com

I kid, I kid. Brown’s first costume of the season was not the worst thing we’ve seen out on the ice. The faux leather boots were definitely quite theatrical and not my personal cup of tea, but they fit Brown’s personality and the character he was playing in the program (Tristan, the warrior from the opera Tristan and Isolde). He changed things up after the U.S. Nationals, going with a more subtle navy blue/black color scheme with the same style and I think it was a great decision. It looked much more polished and mature. His interpretation of the music is so intense that he doesn’t need anything overtly theatrical to help tell the story; he does it with his movements.

It seems like most of the international skaters stuck with the same costumes throughout the season. Canadian ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver used different versions of the same dress concept for her Four Seasons free dance with Andrew Poje, so I’m not sure that counts as an entire costume change. I don’t think the American team as a whole is more prone to costume changes, because we’ve seen plenty from international skaters as well over the years. Japanese champion Mao Asada often switched up her dresses and Canadian ice dance Olympic Champion Tessa Virtue seemed to show up with a different free dance dress to every competition last year.

I think it just depends on the athlete, and their program that year. For me, all I can think of when I see all these costume changes throughout a season is how much each of these outfits must cost! I used to spend a couple hundred on my dresses back in my more recreational skating days, and this article says that the elite skaters can spend up to $5,000 per costume. The lengths we go to for fashion!


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Fashion Friday

I’m shaking things up and doing a “Fashion Friday” post instead of Flashback Friday…I know, I probably need to address my overuse of/propensity for alliteration. But we’ll do that another day. Today is for some fashion.

One of my favorite parts of the Grand Prix series was checking out everyone’s costumes. While the skating itself is obviously the most important aspect of a performance, the sparkles and sequins of the costumes are part of what sets our sport apart. You’re not going to find any sparkles on a football field, that’s for sure. Attire is part of the artistry of a skating performance; it can aid in telling the story, or in some cases, distract from the skating entirely.

Here are some of my favorite looks from the season so far, and some that I thought weren’t so great:

The standout of the season for me is Gracie Gold’s purple long program dress. I’ve written it before, but I just think it is fabulous. The color looks great on her and the romantic style fits the pieces of music she is using from Phantom of the Opera. The beautiful design lets her skating do the talking, and I like the little feather she wears in her hair. It is reminiscent of the masks and the “Masquerade” song in the opera.

Image Source: icenetwork.com

The deep “v” in both the front and back of Madison Chock’s short dance dress is really distracting. Thankfully flesh-colored fabric means that we don’t have to worry as much about wardrobe malfunctions, but it would be a beautiful dress with less of a plunging neckline.

Image Source: isu.org

Kaitlyn Weaver’s use of her long red skirt during her short dances with partner Andrew Poje was very true to the Paso Doble form of dance, with the flicking motion reminiscent of a bullfighter. At first I thought the skirt was a little long, but luckily there is enough of a slit that she moves really easily and the skirt itself moves a lot while she skates. I also like how well their costumes complement each other.

Image Source: ocanada.com

Maxim Kovtun’s long program top reminds me a lot of another Russian: Olympic Champion Alexei Yagudin. Notice the similarities between Kovtun’s and Yagudin’s “Winter” short program outfit from 2002? Not many people had good things to say about Yagudin’s look, and I’m not sure about Kovtun’s, either. It reminds me too much of a stained glass window.

Image Source: canada.com & icenetwork.com

Image Source: icenetwork.com and canada.com

I love Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, but I do not love their short program costumes. While it does evoke the music (which is from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), his shirt is almost a bit too gimicky. And the shoulder adornments on her outfit remind me of wings, or even a religious habit. In my opinion it detracts from the performance more than supports it.

Image Source: icenetwork.com

Who wore your favorite costumes so far this season? Am I just not appreciating some of these enough? Tell me what you think!