As Words to Bumble illustrated during the Olympics, figure skating is dependable entertainment for two reasons: show tunes and wacky costumes.
I searched and searched for an adjective that gets across all variations in figure skating costumes, but wacky seems to be the only one that covers the range of emotions: terrifying, hilarious, unfortunate, clownish, retina-scarring, theatrical, character-driven, etc. I demand a lot from my adjectives.
As you may know, I love a good show tune and I am a firm believer that no figure skating competition is complete without at least one solid skate to old Broadway. The Cup of China weekend featured men, women and couples gliding away to the tunes my youth (I didn’t have Disney movies, but my grandma owned every musical ever on VHS).
The Italian ice dance couple, Frederica Faiella and Massimo Scali take their show tunes so seriously that not only is her costume a faithful adaptation of Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot gown from My Fair Lady, but the couple apparently worked with an Italian actress to make sure that they were presenting a true-to-the-film interpretation through their facial expressions, costumes and choreography. Too bad the hemline of Faiella’s skirt is so authentically long that Scali’s skate got caught in it, causing some major drams towards the end of their program, thereby marring overture selections from one of my favorite musicals of all time (tied with The Sound of Music, if you must know).
And then it happened again in their long program at which point I’m pretty sure Tanith Belbin (who was commenting) lept out of her seat, told Andrea Joyce to hold her horses for just a moment, ran, got a pair of scissors and attempted to FedEx them to Beijing overnight.
As usual, a nice sturdy English tweed suit did not interfere in anyway with healthy “outdoor” activity. And it was well-tailored. Thank you Beau Brummel for you legacy (if you get that reference and you did not go to graduate school with me, I thank you).
Speakng of three-piece suits, guess what Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic skated to?
You are right: Dancing in the Rain. He wasn’t wearing a three-peice suit, but he was wearing a vest and you know how I love a vest. He also pantomined an umbrella. Adorable!
The UniversalSports.com slideshow caption person for the “Fashion Two-Cents” series (WHY am I not that person?) took major issue with Verner’s pastels, but here’s the thing: if you are going to perform to show tunes, then the pastels are just going to be unavoidable. I once designed a set that was all pastels for Bye-Bye Birdie. Did I want to use all pastels? Did I want to be involved in that atrocity of a musical? The answer is NO. But sometimes these things are unavoidable. Show tunes is show tunes.
Plus have you seen some of the other costumes people are wearing?
Bronze medalist Alena Leonaova, for instance, brought yet another Harlequin clown disaster basket into our lives, complete with pompoms, tiger stripes and a rainbow sherbert color palette. She’s spunky and energetic and all, but that’s still just not OK.
Back in the world of ballroom dance on ice, Ekaterina Bobrova, also of Russia (with partner Dmitri Soloviev), brought this strange number into our lives, which brings me to reflect on the unfortunate shared genetic sequence between ballroom dancing and ice dance… I know you have seen Dancing with the Stars, and I know you know those costumes are unacceptable to human life.
In a disturbing turn of events, silver medalist Akiko Suzuki chose to wear an incongruous flower-patterned white thing for her free skate to… Fiddler on the Roof?
I know, I was confused as well and here I concur with the UniversalSports.com fashion critic (oh the jobs I don’t have). It’s not that her get-up is inherently offensive (although, let’s face it: it is not great)—it just doesn’t make any sense, something is just off.
So the last show tune of my latest figure skating pondering is kind of a bust. I’m sorry. I can only hope that Skate America this coming weekend will bring more fodder for my ramblings.