August 29, 2012

Figure Skating Outfits Part 1: The Design Process Demystified

Although I have already written several blog posts on the subject of figure skating outfits, here I'd like to take an in-depth look at how you can design your figure skating outfits. When looking at the finished product often it seems unfathomable how the designer and/or dress-maker came to such a finished piece, so here we'll take a step-by-step look at the basic figure skating costume design process, and how you too can create sensational looks for your next big event! 

At this stage I'd like you to keep in mind that everyone's creative process is different, and many would probably disagree with the way I break down the costume designing process. It's all about finding what's right for you, and this post in intended as an insight into how I used to do things, not an instruction manual. Once the major steps in costume design have been demystified, I hope you can go on to take creative control of your process and create the dress of your dreams!

So let's have a look at a costume and then think about the steps that were taken to achieve that final product.

Yu Na Kim of Korea, photographed by {Queen Yuna}

This dress features the following:
  • specific neckline
  • bold colour
  • heavy embellishment

The music she was skating to was George Gershwin's Concerto in F, and she claimed the Olympic gold medal in Vancouver in 2010 in this dress. Somehow I don't think she'll be selling that one on any time soon!

So let's think of the steps taken to achieve this look:
    the basic dress shape was determined
    • the colour was chosen
  • thoughts were given to her comfort for this long program dress (sleeves may be too hot? Anything too revealing may be uncomfortable? Straps may cut into shoulders? The list goes on...)
    • final embellishment was designed
    • the overall look she wanted to convey was thought about (romantic? sexy?)
    • the fit of the dress to the music was considered (no to Latin dresses to skate to Beethoven)

As we can see, many factors go into a dress before any fabric is even cut. I'd say the priorities lie in this order:
   • comfort, which leads to...
    • ... shape, which leads to...
    • ... overall look and feel to convey, which ties in with...
    • ... the fit to the music
    • colour
  • embellishment (but then again I am of the opinion that you could add Swarovski crystals in any random way and they would look stunning! I'm not fussy when it comes to crystals ^_^)

So now we understand the factors that must be considered before any designing can commence, I'd like to invite you back to my blog once a week for the next in this 4-part series of posts on designing winning competition outfits. We'll go through the following components:

Part 1: The Design Process Demystified
Part 2:  Deciding On Colour For Your Costumes
Part 3:  How To Decide On Shape For Your Costumes  
Part 4: Considering Embellishment In Figure Skating Costumes

If you're currently trying to find inspiration for your next outfit, then before next weeks post try and think about what your music means to you, and how you would like to translate those feelings visually in order to share them with your audience. Once you have identified how your music makes you feel, you'll be in an ideal position to start thinking about how to make that come across through fabric and design!

Don't forget to check back on Wednesday September 5th for the next in our 4-part series on costume design!

Until next time, happy skating!

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