Ice Network

Donovan: Trophée de France fashion podiums

Designer has high praise for up-and-comer Chen, French skaters overall
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Sam Donovan said that Nathan Chen's free skate costume is an example of a cultural reference done right. -Getty Images

It gets more and more difficult as these Grand Prix events progress to select a podium, as the repeats begin to show up in full force. Luckily, though, everyone seemed too intimidated by this French event to slum it, leaving us with some truly worthy costuming choices. That said, for the most part, previously awarded looks are (in the interest of avoiding a déjà vu moment) generally not considered. What I truly learned from the Trophée de France, however, is that French figure skaters are coming for the gold in PyeongChang.


GOLD - Nathan Chen (FS)

This is just gorgeous. Chen looks royal in his exquisitely embellished attire, with a rich, contrasting blue to complement the luxurious red and gold combination. Cultural references done right are always a gold mine for figure skating costumes, and the regality of Chen's free skate costume is the perfect way to finish off a competition. Even if he didn't take home hardware, Chen still gleams -- literally.

SILVER - Denis Ten (SP)

Taking a slightly less traditional route in the royal direction, Ten slays in his Steampunk Disney prince ensemble. The monochromatic leather accents play well against the silver hardware and angular piecing of his jacket, and I'm so glad to see that he managed not to fall into the "black pants" trap so many male figure skaters default to. Standout look on a truly fascinating figure in figure skating.

BRONZE - Takahito Mura (SP)

I chose not to medal Takahito during my initial viewing of his costume at Skate Canada, but the look has grown on me quite a bit since then. I love the deconstructed Dutch Baroque feeling of his shirt, and the subtle movement, texture and sparkle of it. I love the crazy artist's hair that accompanies it; it really sells the look.

WEIR AWARD - Artur Dmitriev (FS)

I don't understand Russian figure skating fashion, but it sure is entertaining trying to dissect the madness. Dmitriev had some stiff competition for the Weir Award in Belgium's Jorik Hendrickx and his oddly Zoolander-esque free skate attire, as well as the NASCAR Elvis that Ivan Righini pulled out for his free skate, but the deep, unsettling contrast between Dmitriev's bedazzled kids' Tron pajamas and the classical symphony piece he skated to could not be overcome.


GOLD - Maé-Bérénice Méité (SP)

Sure, Ms. Méité may have gotten a little more well acquainted with the ice than she may have wanted, but at least she looked good doing it. Méité will always stand out for her strength and joy in skating, when so many figure skaters look like soap stars on ice. I love how this outfit showcases her stature and that it's so defiantly not traditionally feminine, and challenges the norms of femininity in figure skating.

What can I say, y'all? I love a rebel.

SILVER - Laurine Lecavelier (SP)

Lovely, subtle, modern -- there was something truly moving and hopeful about her whole performance that the world needed this past weekend. I think we're seeing the development of a new figure skating starlet just in time for 2018.

BRONZE - Wakaba Higuchi (FS)

I need Ms. Higuchi and Mr. Chen to pairs skate, like, now. As much as I want to award this final spot on the podium to the disappointed Gabrielle Daleman, Higuchi managed to edge out her sport chic with this dazzling little number. This is such a vibrant, charming ensemble that manages to walk that very fine line of cultural inspiration and costume, without lapsing into offensive stereotyping.

WEIR AWARD - Lecavelier (FS)

I think we can all agree that your free skate is neither the place for Hello Kitty pajamas nor a tearaway stunt that causes you to fall. Still, it's hard to find fault with Lecavelier's showmanship and guts -- pure entertainment from this one.


Pairs was interesting this time around. Because of the small range of skaters (who have mostly been featured before on my podium), this turns somewhat into a showdown of my previous medalists.

GOLD - Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès (SP)

I love this sassy little dress on Vanessa; it screams "Versace" in the best way. These two are easily the most stylish pairs skaters operating right now (they are, after all, French), but something about the sensuality they bring to skating really lights up the ice.

SILVER - Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (SP)

I almost love this costume more for the zipper malfunction, and the way these two dealt with it -- namely, ignore it until we finish, and then giggle at it. Love that a zipper popped on a flapper dress (of all dresses) and love the whole flirtatiousness of the routine.

BRONZE - Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (SP)

Just barely edging out Natalja Zabijako and Alexander Enbert for the bronze, Tarasova and Morozov essentially beat their Russian competitors on styling alone. Zabijako's free skate dress and Enbert's short program attire together would have made for a decisive coup of their countrymen, but Tarasova and Morozov's well-matched short program ensembles were too strong to overcome.


GOLD - Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FD)

I love the hazy sobriety of these looks, which complemented their moving, haunting performance. Another breathtaking performance by French skaters at a time when the world needs to be reminded of how beautiful humanity can be.

I really have nothing to critique; this is what costuming perfection looks like, y'all.

SILVER - Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (FD)

I love the ice queen Evita Perón realness Gilles is unapologetically serving up, and I love that Poirier plays into the aesthetic without detracting from her showstopper of a gown at all.

BRONZE - Lorenza Alessandrini and Pierre Souquet (SD)

These two are perhaps a little green, but I love their styling choices. There's a sweetness and a vibrancy to the color scheme of the yellow and turquoise that brought additional energy to their vintage-feeling routine. Alessandrini's skirt is the perfect weight for their twizzles and spins, and while I'm sure they annoyed Souquet by hitting him in the face so often, his yellow bowtie tails really were the perfect cherry on the top of these adorable outfits.

WEIR AWARD - Viktoria Kavaliova and Yurii Bieliaiev (SD)

I can understand the desire to choreograph a performance around a dance mix of Adele's notorious "Hello," but to perform that routine dressed as a bargain basement Bratz doll? I don't think I have the words.