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Reality TV stars had to vacate their front-row seats to make room for the new celebrities of the season: athletes. Enjoying a post-Olympics popularity spike, athletes—from dainty gymnasts to burly hockey stars— presided over a different kind of court in September.
This story first appeared in the October 27, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gymnast Nastia Liukin, who won a gold medal for all-around gymnastics in Beijing, fittingly wore a gold Peter Som dress to the designer’s New York show. She also attended Badgley Mischka, along with fellow gold medalist, retired swimmer Amanda Beard, who modeled during the week. Swimmer Dara Torres, who, at 41, came out of retirement to win a silver medal in Beijing, walked the runway at Charles Nolan.
LeBron James made his fashion week debut at Ralph Lauren’s show, with the two men cohosting an event later that week. And hockey players also made the rounds, particularly Sean Avery, who skipped training with the Dallas Stars for the Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez and Vera Wang shows. Meanwhile, Avery’s former New York Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist was spotted at Tommy Hilfiger.
The U.S. Open sent its own flock of athletes from Arthur Ashe to Bryant Park. Maria Sharapova, who had to sit out the Olympics and U.S. Open due to a shoulder injury, made the rounds. Andy Roddick made Lacoste’s show, while women’s champion Serena Williams did a front-row victory lap at Calvin Klein and Luca Luca, as sister Venus visited Diane von Furstenberg.
Boris Becker attended the Talbot Runhof show in Paris, and a number of medalists made front-row appearances in Milan. South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock, also known as the girlfriend of Monaco’s Prince Albert II, trilled that she was “so excited” to be at the Giorgio Armani show for the first time. Also at the show was goldmedal swimmer Federica Pellegrini.
Fencer Valentina Vezzali was flanked by two of her peers, Diego Occhiuzzi and Aldo Montano, who believes there’s more of a connection between fencing and fashion than meets the eye. “Fencing is synonymous with elegance, from the attire to the cavalry and the posture,” said the bronze medalist.
Vezzali and Italian Olympic silver medalist in fencing, Margherita Granbassi, were also invited by Laura Biagiotti, whose front row is regularly graced by athletes.
Alex Schwarzer, who took home a gold medal in the marathon walking category, was at Emporio Armani, while Olympic swimmer Paolo Bossini was at D&G and is rumored to be involved with the designers in a sports-related event or ad campaign.
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