When Wang didn’t make the Olympics, she turned to fashion, but she retains a love for skating. This Olympics, skater Evan Lysacek wears her designs. What follows is an edited version of Wang’s interview with Zap2it.
Q: What sort of look were you seeking with Evan?
A: There are real restrictions. You have to be comfortable. You can’t have any embellishment that catches on the sleeves, and weight becomes a very large issue, and the stretch factor. It is all fairly technical.
Q: Did Evan work with you to devise this look?
A: He worked very hard. You can see by his choreography he is extremely aware as an artist. We want the costumes to reflect that. Evan is very involved in the overall image. At that level athlete nothing is too small of a detail. Evan has grown into an artist. Run, run, jump is not being an artist. The program is so complex. It’s about an entire package. That’s hard to negotiate with quads, the technical elements.
Q: I imagine the materials need to be stretchy. What do you use?
A: One for Firebird is all silk, hand-pieced. On the top, it is four fabrics: organza silk, stretch techno for the pant and kurpo silk stretch jersey. I didn’t want him in bright red and orange flame. I took the step of more fashion avant-garde, black and charcoal gray. When he skates to Scheherazade, I tried to bring a certain princeliness.
Q: Are the costumes sewn in a special way?
A: We triple-sew a seam. We go over it three times because the tension and the stress of the skating movement is so enormous. From convex to concave is so complicated, where the body has to go. It is probably more complicated than any other costume in sports.
Q: Where do you get materials?
A: Italian mills and French mills, not Lycra from Lycra. It has to have a certain finish or allure, properties that make him light and weightless. You are jumping four times in the air and landing on a 16th of an inch.
Q: And you have done this before?
A: I had, for Michelle Kwan and Nancy Kerrigan. You worry yourself sick, more than I can even deal with the pressure, and I am not even skating.
Q: How does the creative process unfold?
A: I watched him skate. I skated with him. The costumes for me are an integral part of the performance. Maybe because I was a skater and in fashion. It is such a telegenic sport. It is all about a package, and that is important. It is also about the Olympics, representing your country and moving forward.