Costume Party: On The Spectacular Tackiness Of Figure Skating Films


‘I, Tonya’ is the latest entry in this storied genre

Figure skating fashion is tacky by definition. While the intense athleticism of the Olympic sport is undeniable, any mention of figure skating instantly conjures up images of tight, overly bedazzled outfits. With I, Tonya, a darkly comic look at the life of controversial figure skater Tonya Harding, now out, it's a good time to check out some cinematic ice-skating fashion.

Ice-skating movies (like most sports movies) tend to stick to a formula: There are the training montages, the moments of doubt, the competitions, and, finally, the wins (or, as in the case of I, Tonya, the undoing of success that comes with scandal). Figure skating costumes are made to be eye-catching, and in film, there's inevitably a contrast between fashions worn on and off the rink.

Skating fashion is ripe for parody. Blades of Glory (2007) takes the silliness at the heart of these looks to the extreme, with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder playing a figure skating odd couple (just go with it) in dopey "conceptual" costumes. The tight, sparkling "fire and ice"-themed costume, complete with fringed sleeves, is truly a pièce de résistance, an example of the potential homoerotic spectacle of skatewear taken to the extreme.

Ferrell, as the excellently named sleazebag Chazz Michael Michaels, and Heder, as the wimpy Jimmy MacElroy, are obvious opposites. Off the rink, MacElroy wears a white suit that wouldn't be out of place at a disco, while Michaels shows up in a black leather look that's a parody of rock star machismo.

Skating films provide an ideal setting for odd couples. The setting of the ice rink, and the intensity of Olympic competitions, attracts extremes. A movie like The Cutting Edge (1992) is a corny but crowd-pleasing, earnest example of this, featuring a stuck-up figure skater, Kate (Moira Kelly), who ends up paired with Doug (D.B. Sweeney), a hockey player. It's hardly a spoiler to say that they end up winning at the Olympics. The film fits neatly into the formula and offers some peak '90s fashion. Kate has an impressive wardrobe of turtlenecks, and the neck acts as a shield, a sign of her hauteur.

Her prim white turtleneck and hair tie contrast with Doug's team jacket and sweatshirt. As a hockey player, Doug is coded as a classic jock, and he's visibly uncomfortable when being fitted for a spangled, matador-inspired skating competition costume.

Kate may wear baggy coats sometimes, but they always have some sort of feminine detail, like this chintzy gold-trimmed number.

When it's time to compete, her red sparkly dress is surprisingly understated.

I, Tonya, with its costumes based on looks that actually graced the Olympics in the early '90s, fluctuates (often frustratingly) between pseudo-tragic biopic and kitsch self-awareness. In a few key moments, we see Tonya (Margot Robbie) sewing her costumes. She's from a poor background, with a demeanor famously considered too brusque and not befitting a proper figure skater. When she's off the ice, she wears a sassy uniform of high-waist jeans and a bomber jacket, and when it's time to skate, she goes for garish, bright colors that become somewhat poignant when we consider her sewing.

The theme of glitz unites cinematic ice-skating fashion, and throughout these three films, it can be intentionally absurd, or elegant, or somewhere in-between. Fashion on ice represents fantasy and femininity. In the case of I, Tonya, the fantasies of glitter and bright colors and flippy skirts, unfortunately, aren't enough to save the doomed protagonist from too-fierce competition and bad men.

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images

Which one, though?

Kim Kardashian is suing fast fashion retailer Missguided, claiming that the brand uses her image to spark interest in and sell its clothing. This lawsuit comes a few days after a theory, that she may be selling her own vintage clothing designs to fast fashion brands so that they can rip them off, made its rounds on the internet.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kardashian's attorney Michael Kump writes that "Missguided systematically uses the names and images of Kardashian and other celebrities to advertise and spark interest in its website and clothing." Other celebrities that the brand has tagged on its Instagram include Cardi B and Dua Lipa, along with the other members of the Kardashian-Jenner family.

Kump uses the example of the Yeezy dress that Kim posted to Instagram, which was ripped off by the brand within a couple of hours. "Recently, for example, after Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram of a dress that was made for her... Missguided quickly responded with its own Instagram post... boasting that it would be ripping off the design within 'a few days,'" Kump continues. "Missguided purposefully inserted Kardashian's Instagram username (@KimKardashian) into its post to capitalize on her celebrity status and social media following in promoting the sale of its upcoming product."

Kump also draws attention to the fact that the brand uses Kardashian's name so much that it may lead others to believe that she works with the brand, which, he wants to make clear, she does not: "Missguided's U.S. website has included entire pages that are devoted solely to the sale of clothing inspired by Kardashian, and on which Kardashian's name and likeness are prominently used without her permission to promote the products."

Some are noting that it's suspicious that Kardashian is not suing Fashion Nova, as well, since the brand most recently ripped off a vintage Mugler gown that Kardashian wore. Though it may be harder for Kardashian to make any claims since timestamps have revealed that the dress was made before Kardashian premiered the dress.



Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

He previously claimed to be a victim of a hate crime

According to reports, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by the Chicago Police Department. As CNN outlines, he's facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. If found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.

The Empire star previously claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime on January 29. He alleged that two masked men attacked him, tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled, "This is MAGA country!" Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were eventually arrested and brought in for questioning, during which news broke that one appeared on Empire and the other worked as Smollett's personal trainer. Now, according to both men and reports, it's being said that Smollett paid them to "orchestrate" the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, have issued a statement regarding their client's defense. "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," they told Deadline. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

If this is all true, this unfortunate turn of events should in no way take away from the fact that there is an abundant number of racially and sexually motivated attacks happening all of the time. They also still remain vastly underreported, so it's essential to listen to alleged victims, always.