The Inside Edge: Best-dressed list from Saint PaulHigh fashion reigned on, off ice; U.S. Figure Skating staff gets into the act
We're home, and we're recovering after another amazing U.S. championships. It was nice at the end of the men's free skate Sunday to see Max Aaron walk into the stands in his skates to hug his family. Adam Rippon's mother, Kelly, was with them, and everyone was teary and happy.
After a fun Skating Spectacular, marred by the unfortunate injury to Nathan Chen, those who hadn't yet gone home gathered at the hotel restaurant to rehash the event. Richard Dwyer, "Mr. Debonair," was working the room, greeting old friends and making new ones. Linda Fratianne looked as marvelous as ever, still making Tom Zakrajsek gush.
"I had a crush on her when I was 16 years old," Zakrajsek said.
Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea were still starry-eyed after their victory in the pairs event, and Madison Hubbell looked breathtakingly beautiful. (She always does, really.) Inseparable BFFs Rippon and Ashley Wagner were excited to prepare for worlds. Jeremy Abbott greeted Rippon with a big hug.
"I'm so proud of you!" Abbott told him.
In the morning, everyone whose flight hadn't been canceled headed home to warmer climes or the snow, depending. Spotted at the airport: the Shibutanis, on their way to a media day at the TD Garden in Boston. Also seen: Senator Al Franken, who seemed to have only a vague sense that the championships had occurred. But he was friendly.
The Best-Dressed List
Here it is: The ninth annual best-dressed list! We have to say that not only do quite a few skaters angle to be on this, but members of the U.S. Figure Skating staff have also expressed a desire to make the list.
"I'm telling you, I get nervous to pack, thinking about Sarah and Drew's best-dressed list!" said Mimi McKinnis, U.S. Figure Skating's communications coordinator.
It's working, because people looked good.
Sometimes the best looks are related to street wear, and sometimes costumes are, in fact, costumes. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim's Elizabeth: the Golden Age costumes hark back to the Renaissance setting of the movie and make them look like fairytale characters. The colors -- cream, gold and rust -- are a little unusual on ice these days, but Scimeca looked breathtaking in a softly draped dress, and Knierim was handsome as a prince in a jacket that fitted him like royalty.
Scimeca designed her own costume, with help and input from Susi Hubbs.
"Chris' costumes were a collaboration of ideas from the team," Scimeca said. "Susi was the mastermind in the detailing of the costume."
"It's the year of the tunic," Paul Wylie said while sitting in the stands during the free dance. And so it is...and we like it. There were plenty of gorgeous costumes in the dance event, as there have been since the start of the Virtue/Moir/Davis/White era.
Honorable mention: Alexandra Aldridge and Matt Blackmer, with a shout-out to the ponytail of pairs-skater-turned-ice-dancer Blackmer. This is ice dance after all, where the ladies' skirts get long and the men's hair gets longer. As for their costumes, Aldridge said she, her mother and Stephanie Miller designed hers, which was inspired by couture ball gowns, and Lynn Martin made Blackmer's.
Winners: They have won before, but gosh, the Shibutanis' free dance costumes are gorgeous. The fine black mesh over wine red is intriguing. Alex's tunic suits his line, and the ombré shading on Maia's dress is lovely. Asked to name their designer, the siblings got cagey.
"We worked with some people in LA," Maia said.
"Trade secret," Alex said, smiling. "Costuming is such a very important part of the sport. We had a direct impact on the design: We went through all of the fabrics; it's very integrated with what we want. But next year, we don't want everyone looking like us."
"It's really personal," Maia said.
This wasn't the strongest category this year, and there was, of course, a lot of black. Sebastian Payannet wins for his free skate costume, which he designed himself. It's very much "figure skater" but simple and bold, with an understated color choice of a soft, muted red. Not black.
Honorable mention: Ashley Wagner. Wagner's black short program dress with crystal straps on the back was fierce. Her white free skate dress, a new version of last year's red costume, was stunning. Both dresses were created by Elena Pollack. Also noteworthy was Hannah Miller, in a beautiful blush-colored free skate dress by Pollack.
Winner: Mirai Nagasu, for the Pat Pearsall-designed free skate dress we have already written about at length. The color, the crystal patterns and, of course, the headband -- one for the ages.
Nagasu is not only well-dressed; she is smart: She got straight A's last semester at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
Sometimes a costume really looks best from, well, behind. Ice dancer Charlotte Maxwell wins "best back" for her rather sexy sheer black dress. Rippon wins for both of his costumes, from the wildly spangled short program shirt to the sheer blue Beatles number he wore for his free skate.
The men's short program was dubbed "The Battle of the Deep V-necks," with the guys showing plenty of man-cleavage. In a competition nearly as exciting as the skating, Tim Dolensky's plunging pec-lines were epic, so the award goes to him.
Best use of purple by a man, aka the Drew Meekins Award
Alex Johnson was a contender for his free skate shirt, although it was pale enough to be considered more lavender than purple. Winner: Charlie White's simply fabulous purple tie.
White, Drew and John Coughlin had a long conversation about ties in the skaters' lounge. All three were embarrassed by a shared experience: While caught up in the stress of competition, they forgot how to tie a Windsor knot. Thank goodness for YouTube.
Best hair, aka the Charlie White Award
Gracie Gold sported several different complex hair arrangements over the season, and she was a shoe-in to win this, and then she suddenly came out with much more simple hair for the competition. So, we went from Gold to ginger: Sean Rabbitt has really great, really red hair, and it's his very, very own.
Winner: Madison Hubbell. Yes, she has won before. But her golden locks are simply perfection.
Winner, junior division: Quinn Carpenter. The 19-year-old is becoming so handsome, and we've always loved his hair.
In other hair news, there was a haircut going around like a virus at the championships: shaved on the sides, with several long inches on top. So many people are wearing it, most notably Mark Mitchell and Max Aaron.
"I grew it probably in the spring, and it has been getting more and more severe," Mitchell said.
Mitchell noted that his husband and co-coach, Peter Johansson, has been wearing a similar style for the past year or so.
"We always try not to be the same. And finally I said to the guy who cuts my hair, 'I don't care if it looks like Peter's, that's what I want! I can't not have the hair that I want because Peter has it. I've given up. Do what you want to do.'"
In an event filled with crystal-encrusted costumes, Fratianne wins the category with a rather stupendous diamond ring.
Honorable mention: Icenetwork's Mickey Brown, wearing a Patriots No. 12 Tom Brady jersey on Sunday in honor of the AFC Championship Game. During the men's free skate, many skaters, coaches and staff were running back and forth between watching the skating on the ice and watching the Patriots-Broncos game on backstage monitors.
But just as on the field, Colorado came out on top in this category: The winner is McKinnis. The ever-cheery communications pro looked fresh and put-together for the entire championships, gracefully wearing a series of cute outfits from early in the morning until late at night, and always with a smile. She's a ray of sunshine backstage, and, incidentally, a two-time U.S. ice dance pewter medalist at the juvenile and intermediate levels.
Honorable mention: Doug Williams, wearing bold and attention-getting looks. After winning last year, Shawn Rettstatt took himself out of the competition this year, saying he was going more casual. We spotted Robbie Rosenbluth with some amazing patent-leather sneakers by Lanvin, which he wore with a suit.
Winner: Gale Tanger, who looked sophisticated and chic all week.
Best-dressed over 70
Richard Dwyer, who we believe is actually 80, was looking oh-so-sharp at the championships. His beautiful clear eyes and radiant smile make a strong case for best accessories as well.
Frank Carroll was wearing a hat all week. He was overheard to say jokingly, "Anything to hide my bald head!"
But what's wrong with bald? Following the lead of Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning, the great Brian Boitano decided to shave it all off. Bold. Beautiful.
So many honorable mentions: Patrice Lauzon, Elena Novak in a three-quarter length sleeved coat with long gloves, Jonathan Cassar, perennial list inhabitant Mitchell.
But our winner is Julie Marcotte, who, even on her way to watch practice, wore a fur vest under a luxe jacket, black pants with square studs up the sides and killer suede boots.
We've already talked about Mitchell's boots. Rippon wore some nice Hugo Boss shoes, and Wagner had sharp Madewells.
Winner: Sasha Cohen, for exquisite open-toed numbers she wore on the red carpet at the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame presentation.
And here it is...Best dressed of the competition
Seldom in the history of the best-dressed list has there been a harder fought campaign than this year's. Douglas Razzano, however, with a social media strategy as strong as Obama in '08, topped the list. We respect that kind of effort -- this is a competition, after all.
Evan Lysacek was as elegant as ever, in his trademark black from head to toe. Meryl Davis is flawless, beyond compare, really. Rippon and Wagner brought their A-game, once again.
"We coordinated coming into this event, and we are going for 'Mad Men' chic," Wagner said. "I want him to look like the businessman, and I'm the secretary that got him there. And that's how our championship went, so it's very appropriate!"
After the two laughed hilariously, Rippon went on, "Part of relieving the stress of getting ready is that we focus a lot on what we're going to wear, our outfits and stuff. I think it's therapeutic."
They coordinate their packing, as one does.
"We had a walk-through," Wagner said. "I tried on all my outfits, he came over to my house, and I tried everything on. It had to be pre-approved."
But Razzano wins the 2016 prize, hands and swoon-worthy jackets down. With elegant looks all week, Razzano went from casual earth-toned buttoned shirts and camel scarves, to midnight blue formal fierceness with a velvet smoking jacket and bowtie number that stole the show Saturday evening. Razzano's Instagram campaign was strong...check it out to see most of his looks.
And with that, it's a wrap for the 2016 U.S. Championships. On to worlds!
Sarah and Drew
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