Vera Wang Talks Designing Nathan Chen’s Sleek Olympic Skating Ensembles

Edward Barsamian

“No two skaters share the same energy, creativity, athleticism, musicality, or style,” said Vera Wang before this year’s Olympic games started in PyeongChang, South Korea. “Nathan [Chen]reflects a new freedom not only in his feats of tackling quad jumps, but a very modern sense of music and movement that has influenced the artistic side of skating.” Wang, a competitive skater in her youth, has designed performance looks for such legends as Evan Lysacek, Michelle Kwan, and Nancy Kerrigan, but with the 18-year-old Salt Lake City native, she wanted to take a different approach. “For Nathan, I wanted to express a certain geometry and nonchalance without sacrificing the dignity or significance of an Olympic competitor,” she says. The aim “was to keep things cool and riff off a casual, easy vibe.” Wang achieved her goal through a palette of black, gray, and white, starting with 30 designs and working with Chen to edit them down. “These are not show costumes, but sleek, modern interpretations of athleticism.”

<h1 class="title">Nathan Chen</h1> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Nathan Chen

Photo: Getty Images

That fiercely competitive spirit was on display from the moment Chen hit the ice in a monochrome look in black for his short program. Wang, who was inspired by Rothko paintings for the wardrobe, added patchwork paneling in subtly varying shades and textures, while deploying contrasting white panels and stripes for other looks. “Designing skating costumes are challenging as they have to satisfy so many restrictions," she says. "Range of motion, enhance choreography, flatter the skaters physically, withstand huge fluctuations the body undergoes while performing, and above all, the comfort factor!” And though Chen took home bronze for Team USA, his PyeongChang outings are just the start of what Wang thinks will be a brilliant career. “I found this both challenging and exciting,” Wang says of working with figure skating’s latest all-star. “He clearly has a point of view—and his own very cool sense of style!”

<h1 class="title">Nathan Chen</h1> <cite class="credit">Photo: Shutterstock</cite>

Nathan Chen

Photo: Shutterstock

See this week’s best dressed celebrities:

10 Best Dressed: Week of February 19, 2018

<div class="caption"> <p>Tilda Swinton</p> <p>What: Chanel</p> <p>Where: At the Berlinale International Film Festival’s opening ceremony and <em>Isle of Dogs</em> premiere, Berlin</p> <p>When: February 15, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Tilda Swinton

What: Chanel

Where: At the Berlinale International Film Festival’s opening ceremony and Isle of Dogs premiere, Berlin

When: February 15, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Margot Robbie</p> <p>What: Louis Vuitton</p> <p>Where: On the street, New York City</p> <p>When: February 15, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Margot Robbie

What: Louis Vuitton

Where: On the street, New York City

When: February 15, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Natalie Portman</p> <p>What: Valentino</p> <p>Where: At the <em>Annihilation</em> premiere, Los Angeles</p> <p>When: February 13, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Natalie Portman

What: Valentino

Where: At the Annihilation premiere, Los Angeles

When: February 13, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Lupita Nyong’o</p> <p>What: Cushnie et Ochs</p> <p>Where: On the street, New York City</p> <p>When: February 12, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Lupita Nyong’o

What: Cushnie et Ochs

Where: On the street, New York City

When: February 12, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Elle Fanning</p> <p>What: Valentino Haute Couture</p> <p>Where: At the Berlinale International Film Festival’s opening ceremony and <em>Isle of Dogs</em> premiere, Berlin</p> <p>When: February 15, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Elle Fanning

What: Valentino Haute Couture

Where: At the Berlinale International Film Festival’s opening ceremony and Isle of Dogs premiere, Berlin

When: February 15, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Kelela</p> <p>What: Calvin Klein and a Simon Miller bag</p> <p>Where: On the street, New York City</p> <p>When: February 13, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Kelela

What: Calvin Klein and a Simon Miller bag

Where: On the street, New York City

When: February 13, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Kendall Jenner</p> <p>What: Off-White</p> <p>Where: On the street, New York City</p> <p>When: February 11, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Kendall Jenner

What: Off-White

Where: On the street, New York City

When: February 11, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Danai Gurira</p> <p>What: Sies Marjan</p> <p>Where: At the Cinema Society screening of <em>Black Panther</em>, New York City</p> <p>When: February 13, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Danai Gurira

What: Sies Marjan

Where: At the Cinema Society screening of Black Panther, New York City

When: February 13, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Tessa Thompson</p> <p>What: Chanel</p> <p>Where: Chanel and Charles Finch pre-BAFTA dinner, London</p> <p>When: February 17, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Tessa Thompson

What: Chanel

Where: Chanel and Charles Finch pre-BAFTA dinner, London

When: February 17, 2018

Photo: Getty Images
<div class="caption"> <p>Ella Purnell</p> <p>What: Chanel</p> <p>Where: Chanel and Charles Finch pre-BAFTA dinner, London</p> <p>When: February 17, 2018</p> </div> <cite class="credit">Photo: Getty Images</cite>

Ella Purnell

What: Chanel

Where: Chanel and Charles Finch pre-BAFTA dinner, London

When: February 17, 2018

Photo: Getty Images

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