Iced Out


For an entire week, I was so excited about Project Runway‘s figure skating episode, I could hardly contain myself. Then, when it finally came, it didn’t nearly live up to my hopes and dreams.

The contestants were indeed forced to wear tacky figure skating costumes throughout the episode, which should have made it a hit. The problem was really in their designs for miniscule figure skater Sasha Cohen. These fledgling designers have too much pride, trying to class up the ice with their simple, elegant cuts and conservative use of sequins. I don’t want Nancy Kerrigan, I want Tonya! It’s just not a skating outfit if there are no puffy sleeves, no sheer, beige-toned underlay going down to the belly button. At least give us little orphan Oksana, with her shimmering pink cupcake swirls.

Emmett, for one, who finally got eliminated, stuck with that magical combination of tacky and sporty. As he put it, “I thought about the midnight sky and the sparkling stars.” Or, as Anne Slowey, Elle‘s Fashion News Director and one of the judges, put it, “There’s entirely too much tootie being exposed. It’s slightly vulgar in my opinion.” You had to pity him, especially going down with love handles bulging through a magenta turtleneck—ouch.

Old school cool: the designers line up for judgement
photo: Nina Lalli

Zulima was the winner, with a white outfit she described thusly: “I am doing an ice princess sort of thing?” Michael Kors called it chic, and it was, but is that really appropriate?

The truth is, there’s hardly anything trendier than old school figure skating style these days. Think of all the leggings and leg warmers girls are wearing, and the ballerina shrugs, and sequins! But no one captures the all-American-ness of it better than Wendy Mullin, of Built By Wendy on Centre Market Place. Some of the looks are even on sale, like a wine colored satin blouse with puffy cap-sleeves and gold ice skates embroidered on the bib ($109, down from $155).

Mullin takes inspiration from her childhood in Chicago, where she could often be found on the ice. “Winter sports were really big,” she says. She also pays homage to the movie Ice Castles, from 1978, about a figure skating Olympic-hopeful whose dreams are dashed by a tragic accident.  (Guess what? In the end, love saves the day.)

Although Project Runway contestants Nick and Santino looked fairly amazing in their flowy, low-cut blouses, Mullin has something different in mind for dudes. Taking inspiration from the movie Slap Shot (1977), about a hockey team that finally starts winning when it gets violent on the ice, Mullin has a unisex thermal shirt with an illustration of three of the characters, the Hanson brothers. If that’s too subtle, she also offers something that poor Tonya might have appreciated: a black T-shirt with a line of cracked, bloody teeth along the bottom ($35).

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