A Creative Passion: The Art of Costume Design

Tatjana Flade
Costume sketch for Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao

When figure skating first became a competitive sport in 1896, costumes, as we know them today, were nonexistent. In the early days, ladies dressed in traditional ankle-length skirts, while men performed in suits.

It was not until the legendary Sonja Henie hit the ice in the 1920s that change came about. Her elegant costumes, all designed by her mother, included shorter hemlines — making it possible for Henie to execute jumps that had previously only been done by men.

Henie’s style made a statement: Costumes should look good and be practical at the same time. Henceforth, ladies’ outfits became less formal, and over the ensuing decades, have transitioned with changing times. Henie, a 10-time World champion, also introduced the white skating boot for ladies.

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Originally published in April 2012