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May 29, 2017

2016-2017's Best and Worst Dressed

Ah, the figure skating post season--with the next competitions a mere glint in the milkman's eye and scant news available about our beloved skaters, now is the time of the year for figure skating fans to indulge in favorite pastimes such as arguing over disputed, decades-old competitive results, swapping tales of rink gossip and intrigue, and engaging in costume-related discussions. Incidentally, the lattermost topic happens to be the focus of today's post: my picks for this year's best and worst figure skating costumes.

Best: Carolina Kostner, LP
Carolina Kostner's monochrome, minimally embellished dress for her Nisi Dominus long program is simple, effortlessly chic, and makes her stand out from her teenaged competitors, who generally make liberal use of fripperies such as bright colors, sequins, cut-outs, and ruffles. Actually, both of Ms. Kostner's costumes this season are conspicuously monochrome and minimalist, as if Ms. Kostner was atoning for the riotously bedazzled Cavalli sartorial missteps of her youth one costume at a time. Given how understated, chic, and expensive Ms. Kostner looks during her Nisi Dominus program this year, it looks like all is forgiven.

Worst: Wakaba Higuchi, LP
Wakaba Higuchi's Scheherezade long program costume is exactly the type of look from Ms. Kostner's youth that Ms. Kostner presently appears to be atoning for: superfluous use of illusion mesh that quite obviously isn't flesh, check; gratuitous use of sequins ON illusion mesh, check; awkward chest fabric placement, check; random cut-outs, check . . . the overall look just screams "ORIENTALIST FANTASY PRINCESS" so that the costume can do all the heavy lifting interpretation-wise when Ms. Higuchi is busy setting up for her two back-half triple-triple combinations.  As someone who generally scorns adherents of the Literal School of Costuming, Ms. Higuchi's costume is just way too on the nose for me not to turn up my nose at (which is a common fate for many a figure skating Scheherezade, see, e.g., Carolina Kostner in fall 2013).

Best: Shoma Uno, LP
Shoma Uno's sleek, red-and-black long program costume this year sternly announces to all that Mr. Uno is in fact a FIERCE, MANLY AND FIERY TOREADOR WHO WILL VERBALLY ASSAULT YOU FOR OVER A MINUTE if you dare to use adjectives such as "adorable" to describe him and/or express a desire to pinch his cheeks.

Worst: Takahito Mura, SP
When I first saw Takahito Mura's long program costume this season with its giant silver sleeve ruffles, superfluous black neckline fringe tassels (on one side only?!), and doily-like lace top with sequin embellishments, I thought--oh, it's an improvement on 2015's infamous feather duster costume! Yes, this costume is definitely less sartorially sinful than Mr. Mura's efforts from the season before, but Mr. Mura still looks like he garbed himself with random odds and ends from a discount upholstery store. Keeping standards high, they say, is a daily battle.

Best: Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert, LP
Natalia Zabiiako's feather patterned dress is youthful, fresh and has just the right amount of creative flourishes to keep things interesting, with the unique feather pattern forming the bodice and some subtle, pale pink shading. Alexander Enbert's shirt-and-pants combination in various shades of gray is complementary and somewhat less interesting, but he is clearly the stem to her flower, and when the flower is so pretty, why pick on the stem?

Worst: Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov, LP
It's a mystery why anyone would think it'll be a good idea to dress in costumes that bear an unfortunate resemblance to cast-offs from a low-budget futuristic b-movie from the 1980s, but here we are. There are so many things wrong here it's difficult to pick out what really 'breaks' the look--is it the obviously cheap synthetic fabric? The weird, superfluous off-white sleeves on Ms. Tarasova? The questionable diagonal cuts? Whatever it is, the best that can be said about these costumes is that they are accurate reflections of the quality of the music cuts and choreography in Tarasova/Morozov's MUSIC IS MAH FIRST LOOOOOOOVE long program.

Ice dance:
Best: Weaver/Poje, FD
In stark contrast to the Montreal Style of costuming prevalent in ice dance today--exemplified by floaty, flowing fabrics in neutral, toned-down colors and minimal sequins--Kaitlyn Weaver has shown up in the latter half of the season with a blinged-out golden bodice and a bright red skirt for Weaver/Poje's Concierto de Aranjuez free dance, with Andrew Poje wisely going for a more restrained look so as to let Ms. Weaver's dress shine. It's a surprisingly tasteful and gorgeous look for a couple who has Nikolai Morozov as a coach, so I'm going to assume that Mr. Morozov has had no role in selecting this costume. Having had the chance to see Ms. Weaver's dress up close and in person at Helsinki Worlds, I can personally attest to the fact that Ms. Weaver's beautifully detailed bodice features excellent, flesh-like illusion mesh (always a concern for me), high quality sequin work, and looks even better in motion when paired with that fierce red skirt giving just the perfect amount of flutter. Stunning.

Worst: Ilinkyh/Zhiganshin, FD
Ilinkyh/Zhiganshin's costumes in their Jai Ho free dance illustrates some of the problems inherent in period dramas with shoestring costume budgets: texture and depth, or more precisely, the lack thereof. That is, the reason why so many period costumes look so cheap is that they are single layer affairs that look flat as hell, like cheap Halloween costume facsimiles of the real thing. Here, the embroidery and beadwork in Ilinykh/Zhiganshin's costumes look like they're painted and/or tacked onto the fabric, and what should have been different swathes of fabric is very evidently one single layer of fabric poorly disguised by different lines of color. I realize that not every team has the budget to make India-inspired costumes as beautiful and intricate as Davis/White's original dance costumes in 2010, but a smaller budget doesn't explain why Ms. Ilinykh's skirt is so voluminous in a way that makes Ilinykh/Zhiganshin's busy free dance look even more messy, nor does it explain the awful, unflattering diagonal cuts on her bodice.


  1. Shoma Uno for sure is Worst Jumper ever happened in the history of Men skaters

  2. @Marc

    I also heard that Shoma Uno for sure kicks puppies, steals candy from babies, and double dips his chips into communal guacamole bowls!!

  3. I hadn't noticed the subtle purple under Kaitlyn Weaver's skirt, it's gorgeous. When she's not dressed in horrible tiger print monstrosities, she almost always makes my best dressed list.

  4. @Anonymous

    I agree that Kaitlyn Weaver is one of the best-dressed skaters! The yellow Four Seasons dress she wore at the 2014 NHK Trophy and the 2014 GPF is one of my favorite ice dance looks ever, especially when paired with Andrew Poje's grey outfit.