DESIGNER SIDELINES: While some advertisers will be forking over $5 million for 30-second Super Bowl commercials, Vera Wang will be getting some air time for free.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ cheerleaders will be rallying for Nick Foles and the rest of the team wearing uniforms created by the New York designer. In 2003, Wang became the first big-name designer to suit up a NFL cheerleading squad. No slouch in the athletic department, Wang herself was a competitive skater before she segued into fashion. Through the years, Wang has suited up all sorts of elite athletes — Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek among them. At this month’s Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, the undefeated U.S. figure skater Nathan Chen will hit the ice wearing costumes designed by Wang. “I have always been an athlete, a supporter of so many disciplines, a true fan, and very proud and humbled by having dressed so many athletes in competition and for many of their weddings and red carpet moments!” she said.
Considering 111 million tuned in for last year’s Super Bowl, Wang’s uniforms are set to be seen worldwide. “Whenever one designs for athletes, or performers, being viewed from 360-degree angles becomes imperative. But TV adds a whole other issue and in many ways it is like designing for a fashion show, which is also a major production,” she said.
On Game Day, the Eagles’ cheerleaders may wear their green, black and white satin jackets, zip-front jackets and leggings to keep their muscles limber before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. By the time the Super Bowl XXVI coin toss is decided, the pom-pom carrying crew will peel off any extra layers to rev up the Eagles fans wearing their tri-colored bra tops and V-waisted boy shorts. Wang said, “I know that my own years of training on ice and off, made me painfully aware of the need for comfort, ease, and stretch. Weight also becomes a factor when one has to perform for an extended period of time and a wide range of motion….Each sport is different and technical but for me all factors have to be taken into consideration.”
The Eagles-Patriots showdown will have other fashion elements, namely Tom Brady’s number-one fan Gisele Bündchen, his fellow Patriot Danny Amendola’s girlfriend Olivia Culpo and Stella McCartney-clad halftime performer Justin Timberlake. Christina Weiss Lurie, president of the Eagles Youth Partnership and Eagles Social Responsibility, recruited her friend Wang to do the honors. That meant two sets of uniforms, which not only had to reflect the brand, but the players, and the vast change in climates, (indoors and out, Northern and Southern locations etc.),” Wang said. “As usual, nothing is as simple as it might seem, but comfort, flexibility and allowances for all body types was equally important.”
Planning a film in lieu of a New York Fashion Week runway show, the designer won’t be in Sunday’s 65,000-person crowd. As for the are-cheerleaders-athletes debate, Wang said, “I didn’t know there was a debate. I think cheerleading is a high-intensity activity and requires a certain level of fitness. At the high school and university levels, the competitions are intense! For the Super Bowl, it is also a truly American celebration of a truly American sport.”
Before appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and other pre-game photo-ops, the troupe made a pass by the Mall of America to take a spin on the shopping center’s Nickelodeon-made “Blue’s Clues” amusement ride. That may have been another kind of warm-up considering Wang’s own prediction. She said, “Sunday will be a very exciting and crazy roller-coaster ride night.”