Costumes make the difference in Olympic ice skating

Classy, flashy and they come with a whole lot of sequins! They are simply put, couture on ice.

Wellesley designer Yumi Barnett-Nakamura spends four to six weeks on each dress, from start to finish.

But even before picking up a pencil, Yumi starts by listening to the skaters’ music and watching their routines.

Then she designs with input from coaches and skaters themselves, including local pairs skater Marissa Castelli.

“The best thing about Yumi is she’s fast, and she’s very creative. I give her one of my ideas, and she just takes it and runs with it and does anything I want,” Castelli said.

And that includes sewing the costumes, often gluing thousands of stones, sequins and crystals. Every costume tells a story.

Another one of Yumi’s clients is local skater Christina Gao, whose routine is set to the theme from “Angels and Demons.”

“Angel become demon so that part, I wanted to do something not only white so I used gray, black feathers to show it,” Barnett-Nakamura said.

The transformation happening before everyone’s eyes, the devil is also in the details.

“You cannot see on the ice, but if you see very close, the detail is beautiful way. That’s, what I love to do it because other people, the coaches see it, it’s very nice,” Barnett-Nakamura said.

These costumes have to be able to withstand all the jumping, throwing and spinning.

“If stones drop, it’s like one deduction. So I have to check all the time, and I’m very nervous to do pairs because after each competition, I have to check it because I worry,” Barnett-Nakamura said.

If anyone can do it, it’s Yumi, who comes from a long line of designers. Her mother’s side of the family in her native Japan includes kimono artists.    

She considers herself an artist as well, her masterpiece, the skaters’ debuting her costumes on ice.

“On the tv and the music and everything get together, and then, the skater is wonderful performance that time, I’m just happiest time,” Barnett-Nakamura said.