Male figure skaters are upping the fashion ante in Vancouver.

This story first appeared in the February 10, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The world champion, Evan Lysacek of the U.S., lined up Vera Wang to design five costumes for his Olympic effort, including a charcoal gray ensemble with feathers from Lemarié, a supplier to Coco Chanel herself.

Wang, a former competitive skater, is uncertain what Lysacek will wear on the ice. She will be rinkside to catch Lysacek’s acrobatic triple and quadruple jumps. The designer skated with him to “Firebird” and “Scheherazade” before setting out to design his costumes.

Referring to how the sport is judged for athleticism, artistry and technicality, Wang said: “You have to swim like Michael Phelps, dive like Greg Louganis but look good, be costumed and stay to the music. It’s kind of your worst nightmare as a designer.”

It’s not just about looking good. One outfit had a leather panel on the midriff, which had to be replaced with a mesh inset to allow for breathability, Wang said. Wrapped silk, a technique that will be featured in her runway next week, proved to be more suitable.

Although U.S. skater Johnny Weir donned Rodarte for a shoot that appeared in the New York Times Magazine, he prefers to design his own competitive attire, a U.S. Figure Skating Association spokeswoman said.

Rachael Flatt, 17, one of the two Americans who will compete in the women’s singles competition, typically wears costumes designed by Julie McDonough. She has competed in contrasting styles such as a crystal-encrusted red dress and a more diaphanous pale blue one with more discreet beading. Flatt already has a partnership with MAC Cosmetics.

Her teammate, 16-year-old Mira Nagasu, whose first name is a Japanese word for future, has been more daring with her outfits, including a ruby-colored sleeveless dress with dramatic black beading and a more playful pink, black-and-white Pop Art one with long white gloves.

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