Olympic Medalist Sasha Cohen On How To Design the Perfect Ice Skating Outfit

Leah Bourne
US Figure Skating Championships

Photo: Getty Images

Sure, figure skater Sasha Cohen will go down in the history books for winning a silver medal at the 2006 Olympics (along with being a three-time World Championship medalist), but she’s always gotten our vote because of her status as one of the most fashionable skaters to have ever hit the ice.

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Cohen attests to having started designing her own skating costumes at age 12, an experience she says that came with a bit of a learning curve considering ice skating costumes aren’t exactly every day clothes—just try doing a triple axel in something that doesn’t stretch.

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Fittingly, Cohen, now 29 and a student at Columbia University, will hit the runway during New York Fashion Week at the Red Dress Collection Show, which raises awareness around the risks of heart disease for women. With all eyes on the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, we chatted with Cohen about her all-time favorite skating outfit, what it takes to design ice skating costumes, and who she’s looking forward to watching at Sochi.

StyleCaster: You’ve worn some incredible outfits while competing—what was your favorite?

I really loved my Romeo and Juliet costume for the Olympics in 2006. I handpicked every bead and worked with my dressmaker to create elaborate designs out of the beads. That dress was a labor of love, and combines a gorgeous burgundy velvet, with hand pleated chiffon with individual beading so it would stretch.

What was the process like when you designed your Olympic ice skating outfits? How did you decide what to wear?

It always starts with the music. After listening to the music, a color usually pops into my head, and then I begin to sketch and tweak until I start to see my vision on the paper. Then we’d find fabric samples and build a mockup.

Anything happen behind the scenes at the Olympic village that people at home might be surprised about?

I’m sure things did, but since I competed at the very end of the event, I spent very little time in the village and was in ultra-focus mode and protected by my coaches and family before my events. I love living vicariously through other Olympians stories though!

We have to ask—where do you keep your Olympic medal now?

My mom has it at home in California, along with all my other medals, and Olympic rings.

Which skaters should we watch out for at Sochi?

I’m excited to see reigning Olympic champ Yuna Kim come back to defend her title as well cheer on Team USA. We have a very talented young team and I’m looking forward to seeing how they do on the world stage.

So you are walking the runway at the Red Dress Collection Show during Fashion Week. Excited or nervous?

Incredibly excited! Ever since I first heard about the show I hoped that I would have the opportunity to be in it one day and I was so glad when Subway Restaurants called and asked me to walk on their behalf. This event in important to me because it celebrates women, promotes heart health awareness, and kicks off fashion week. Great fun, great cause.