The Nagano ice capades offer new twists on an old color scheme

By Anna Holmes
Updated February 13, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan: Fashion Muses

With Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski, and Nicole Bobek vying for Olympic glory in Nagano, insiders predict a red, white, and blue medal blowout. But even if the U.S. team fails to sweep the skating showdown, expect a touch of blue to top the podium.

Taking a hue cue from Seventh Avenue (especially the sky-colored collections of Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren), all three ice maidens will sport the same blue-toned costumes they wore at the U.S. Nationals. Why? “It just turned out this way,” says skating-outfit designer Lauren Sheehan, who made Bobek’s and Lipinski’s dresses. “But [it’s] like decorating Easter eggs. How many ways can you do it?”

This year’s getups also put a reverse spin on a 1994 Olympic trend: Back then, Nancy Kerrigan glided in Vera Wang, while France’s Surya Bonaly crashed and burned in Christian Lacroix. This time out, skaters are sticking with old-school skating designers, including Sheehan and Mare Talbot, who created Kwan’s ice blue velvet number. Lipinski’s decision not to go the designer route is unusual, because she’s a spokeswoman for Donna Karan’s kids line. “It was discussed,” says DKNY’s Christy Hood. “But I don’t think Tara’s costume was something she felt comfortable changing.”

Still, Karan is the one designer who’s got a toehold on the ice this year. She’s done garb for American ice dancers Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow and whipped up a black stretch unitard for U.S. men’s skater Todd Eldredge. Plus, the designer’s sponsorship deal means she’s armed the entire skating squadron with everything from headbands to socks — snazzy red-and-white ensembles emblazoned with the DKNY logo. Which may leave the competition seeing red or singing the blues.