Nathan Chen has been undefeated this season. He won September’s U.S. International Classic in his hometown, Salt Lake City, before winning moving to the Grand Prix circuit. He beat reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup and then won Skate America over Thanksgiving weekend. He won the prestigious Grand Prix Final, too.
But through all of that, something was missing.
“Costumes were definitely the missing link this whole season,” Chen said in a recent media teleconference. In prior competitions, he wore black pants with a black shirt for the short program, or with a blue shirt for the free skate.
“I needed someone who could really tie it all together and Vera [Wang] was the first person I had in mind,” Chen continued. “We connected through my agent and other people and it happened. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I’ve kinda been talking back and forth and with a lot of the team finalizing the costumes. They’re basically all set now and I’m excited to show them off for nationals.”
Wang is no stranger to designing costumes for figure skaters. As a former skater herself, she designed for 1994 Olympic silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan. Evan Lysacek, the most recent man to win an Olympic gold, wore Wang’s designs at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Lysacek works for Wang, and was involved in the process of connecting Chen and Wang.
“It was an incredible opportunity for me to work with Vera this year,” Chen said of the process. “I went out to New York and had a meeting with her, just talking basically about what my programs were about, what I was looking for.”
Wang called designing for Chen an “honor and a privilege… Nathan embodies all the values we have come to respect: hard work, dedication, passion and accomplishment!”
In an interview before the debut of Lysacek’s 2010 costumes, Wang said that designing costumes for the Olympics was more pressure than designing dresses for the Oscars.
“You wouldn’t want someone to lose Olympic gold because their sleeve ripped off,” she said.
Chen will compete in the men’s short program on Thursday, January 4 and the men’s free skate on Saturday, January 6.