Olympic figure skater Cha Jun Hwan recently made waves at the 2022 Beijing Olympics for his impressive skating skills and idol-like looks. His costume designer recently sat down to discuss what goes into making his incredible outfits.
Designer Bae Kyongsool once only made dance costumes. Because of this, when Jun Hwan’s mother first contacted Kyongsool to make him a costume when he was in middle school, she initially refused.
Later on, Jun Hwan’s mother contacted Kyongsool again to make a pair of pants, and this time she accepted. She recalls her first meeting with Jun Hwan and says, “He was so sweet.” Since then, she’s been able to watch him grow up.
A lot of labor goes into the process of designing figure skating costumes. First, Kyongsool watches practice videos. She determines the type of skating program and listens to the music. She must then meet and measure the athlete before creating her design. After constructing the costume, details such as beads are added.
The design process is collaborative. Kyongsool says, “Because these clothes are for the athletes. I try my best to make what they envision.”
Jun Hwan wanted his short program outfit to express time. For this, Kyongsool started with a circle, as it’s the shape of a clock.
Next, she was able to create the story of time with a layering detail.
You know when you lay Post-it notes on top of each other and move it in the air, it flaps. I realized that expressed time. It looked pretty, but not over the top, and doesn’t make it uncomfortable in motion as well, so that’s why I went for that design.
— Bae Kyongsool
For his free skate program, Kyongsool listened to the music and decided to go with blue for the main color. She says, “the gold decorations on the outfit represented the details expressed in the music.”
Not all the costumes work out. Kyongsool recalled a time when she made an outfit Jun Hwan didn’t like.
Jun Hwan is perfect … and because I thought he could pull anything off, I once gave him a green costume which looked like it was from the Middle Ages. He didn’t wear it, so I asked him why and he said he looks like a Christmas tree.
— Bae Kyongsool
Still, Kyongsool hopes that he will wear the costume sometime in the future. Even if he won’t wear it in public, she hopes he will at least try it on!
We can’t wait to see what costumes Jun Hwan decides to wear next! They are to tell a story on top of being beautiful.