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“Semenenko spoke up and said he felt uncomfortable.” Who dresses the best skaters in St. Petersburg?

Date: October 2, 2023 Time: 06:59:10

Almost all of St. Petersburg jumps onto the ice in Maria Evstigneeva outfits: the designer sews for the groups of Alexei Mishin, Evgeny Rukavitsyn and others. Evstigneeva has worked with award-winning Italian Carolina Costner and current European champion Anastasia Gubanova, and she also sends her creations to China.

How do you choose a concept for a costume? Do skaters have any trends? What fabrics are not suitable for performance? About this and more – in an interview with “Championship”.

– Is there a busiest time when working with skaters, when orders are constantly coming in? How long does it last?– Now it is – the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

– How many hours a day do you have to work during this high season?– In different ways (laughs). Sometimes there are more than 12. We have a small workshop, so it turns out that we need to make sketches, talk to everyone, sew them and also try them on. Everything is concentrated at the same time.

Launch of the special project “Anatomy of a Figure” on clothing:


“Kostornaya can say: “I will not wear this, it’s garbage.” All about creating skater costumes.

–Is talking about the program?– About costume requests. Of course I can suggest something, sometimes they come and say, “Do something.” But “something” cannot be, it is not made for a hanger, but for a specific person. And the person must guide me, say: “I want this”, “I don’t want that”… Since this is an individual preparation and I need to understand what the skater wants. For example, each person looks good on a certain color. Just because I like purple today doesn’t mean it looks good on an athlete.

–Is it possible to create a good suit in a very short time? Were there any very fast cases in your practice?– We made a dress for Caroline Costner in two days. At the same time, we made a dress for her and Ksenia Stolbova. The machine also broke down, so two suits were sewn in parallel in two days using only threads.

I can sew with so much concentration, but that doesn’t mean I can always do it (smiles). I can’t sew very fast all the time, some people of course are used to it, but I only do it sometimes because it’s difficult. You get very tired mentally and physically.

Maria Evstigneeva with Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov

Photo: from the personal archive of Maria Evstigneeva.

– How far in advance do skaters usually arrive?– Very different. Sometimes in three or four months. Of course, this is good, because a topic is given, and even if I don’t do anything, I have it somewhere in my head, I think about what can be done, I solve it mentally. Many people like to do it at the last minute, especially when programs change: first they choose one music and then they decide what to do with another. The creative process occurs not only on my part, but also on the part of the athletes and choreographers.

– Many of the costumes you created contain very personal things for skaters, for example, the Aries constellation on Andrei Mozalev’s Olympic costume (for the program with music by Vangelis), photographs of your loved ones on Dima Aliev’s T-shirt . Can this be considered the author’s approach to work or does it all come from the skaters?

– How did Andrei do: why the stars? Because then sailors navigated guided by the stars. I asked Andrei when his birthday was and the constellation Aries appeared on his suit.

Some personal items in suit are good. Dima himself likes to have something from him. Initially we wanted to do something different, but in the end we came up with this story together. I want it to be the person who expresses themselves with the suit, and not just me.

– Which of the athletes spent the most time in their workshop?– Ksenia Stolbova. We have a very good relationship with her, she is a very creative person, she came here to the workshop and inspired us.

Ksenia Stolbova and Fyodor Klimov

Photo: RIA Novosti

– Young skaters often skate in replicas of champions’ costumes. Do you think this is good or bad?– Why not? They fight for their idols and probably sometimes choose music in this way, repeating some kind of plastic movement. I don’t like making copies at all; probably not necessary. It is difficult to make identical costumes, sometimes I sew for the theater, and there is a certain limit: five identical ones, and then you already feel like a seamstress-machinist (smiles).

– At some point in figure skating they began to use transforming suits. Is there a feeling that the trend has stopped being useful, that there are too many of them and it is increasingly difficult to surprise the viewer?– This is one of the ways to express yourself. If done well, why not? The main thing is that it is convenient for the athlete. For example, we spent a lot of time reworking Zhenya Semenenko’s costume for the free program “The Master and Margarita”: he performed, then noticed that he was uncomfortable; for quite a while we were still finishing something. Then they decided to make a magnetic closure, and it happened that his suit changed right in the jump.

It seems to me that for an athlete this trick with a transformer is difficult, because thinking about a suit during competitions is not entirely correct. If he is so confident in himself that he too can put on a show, this is an advantage, but not to the detriment of the elements.

– So with the transformer, was the idea yours or the athlete’s?– The ideas initially arise from the athletes, I take their information, process it and make it a reality. They come with ready-made productions, with plastics, they give me everything and then we process it and do it all together. Zhenya already had a program with a transforming suit (free in the 2020/2021 season.-Note from the “Championship”), he insisted on such changes: “I want that and that’s it” (smiles). I stubbornly resisted and we still did it.

– There is still an opinion that the transformation of the costumes helps to distract attention from some shortcomings of the program, if the image cannot be fully conveyed with the help of choreography. Do you agree with this?– It all depends on the athlete. The guys just train in black tights and then come the facial expressions and everything else. A suit is another point that can help an athlete and be a plus.

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Color changing costume. What are the most beautiful skater outfits like?

– Previously, you noted that you try to keep the average cost of suits within 30-50 thousand rubles. Has the bar been raised or is it still possible to maintain it?– There are still many materials, due to the exchange rate, some are jumping, others are not. In principle I don’t use Swarovski, for example, although the little ones now want more rhinestones. Most costumes are paid for by the sports committee and have a set price, which I fit into.

– “Little children now want more rhinestones” – Is this a trend now?– Maybe. Before this it was a little less, but it was probably due to the fact that she worked with older skaters.

– And if we talk about trends, is it possible to highlight any detail that will be at the forefront in the next season?– When everyone goes out and rides, it will be possible to highlight something: this year everyone loved red, black, purple or mono. In fact, this has already been determined. I try not to repeat myself. There was one season when I made five red dresses, but they were all different in materials and style. Some have chiffon skirt, some have flexible skirt, some have lace and some have stones.

– Is there any material that definitely cannot be used to make a figure skater costume?– Wool, for example, some very thick and warm material. Of course, it is better that the fabric is thin and elastic so that the athlete is comfortable.

– Not long ago you showed a Chinese figure skater costume for the show “Frozen” with an unusual material: it turns out that fur can be used?– When creating that costume an ostrich fluff boa was used. The little ones, in principle, can do anything, but when this is the level of professional sports, it is not necessary for anything to fall to be comfortable.

One of the costumes for performances.

Photo: from the personal archive of Maria Evstigneeva.

– Is China the main foreign direction of your studio at the moment?– Yes, 13 demands have already been sent there. Let’s see how it goes further, since everything is sewn from a distance. There are not only Chinese athletes, but also figure skaters from other countries.

– Does cooperation continue no matter what?– Life goes on and if we are strong in our business, why not?

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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