Saturday, November 5, 2011


Before leaving for Qatar I did something I've been meaning to do for the past 30 years. Get a real job, you ask? No, nothing that responsible or drastic. I may have mentioned once or twice that as a kid I used to skate. To be more precise, I was a figure skater from the age of 10 until the year before I graduated from high school. Like everything in my life I was a passionate skater who trained year round with a coach, leaving school everyday from about 11 in the morning to drive to distant rinks, train and then returning home around 6 p.m 11 months of the year. Now, I can hear some of you smirking and saying to yourself that I'm just a copy cat and that Vera Wang is the only skating designer who may or may not have been a contender for the gold medal or a shoe-in member of the U.S. team if not for her A.P. English class, SAT tutoring classes or ballroom dancing lessons in preparation for her debut.
Well I was another designing figure skater or vice versa. Skating was my life and the thing I wanted more than anything with the exception of becoming the first chair flautist of the Boston Symphony or a member of the U.S. Equestrian team for Dressage, and if those things didn't gel, then a really successful fashion designer who also writes, or vice versa. From the moment I saw Peggy Fleming win gold at the '68 Olympics, I knew that sport was for me. Like Vera, I didn't make it to the top of the podium, have the thrill of international judges holding up scores of perfect 6.0 (the old judging system). Nevertheless, I had the thrill of becoming a pretty good skater with a few medals to hang on my wall. My strength was as a free skater and less so compulsory figures, which is something one never even hears about anymore. I was a jumper with a handful of nice big lofty doubles. Triples were a little beyond me unless I over did things and over rotated a double. I never mastered a double axel but my single had a nice big open delay and covered some serious distance.
The point is that skating was a way of life and still something that haunts me. I think about it and dream about it to this day.
I had a dream just before my trip that I've been unable to forget: There was a group of people I was wandering with through a barren field covered in a dense fog with mounds of snow and reeds everywhere like a bog in winter. Out of nowhere I see the remains of boards around what looks like a derelict skating rink some distance off. Like a magnet it tugs at me and I'm running through the marshy snow to see what's there. At the edge the mist is just floating above a surface that is like dark grey glass; perfect, untouched ice. (every hardcore skater's wet dream...) Next thing I know I've pushed off and am gliding across the surface in skates with blades that just cut so perfectly I can feel and hear them slice with no resistance. The ice opens before me to reveal a huge area without boundaries. I'm skating the way I used to, turning, jumping and spinning. As I look down at my feet I see that breaking the surface of the ice are a multitude of water lily blossoms large and open the color of silver. It gives me such a feeling of joy that I start skating loops around them and spinning in every possible position. Then I woke up.
What does it all mean? I can't say. All I can say is the next day I found myself at a store downtown ordering a new pair of skates. I took my old ones with me to show the man in charge and he agreed they were best kept as a memory. I was fitted for a pair of boots and ordered the blades like my old ones to match. When I got back from Qatar I went and picked them up. These skates are so beautiful and the blades are astounding. John Wilson Pattern 99's with a toe pick that takes no prisoners. If there's anything I wish for in skating again it's to learn how to really center my spin and do another axel. Spinning was always a weak spot for me. I couldn't hold the center like so many others around me. I'm determined to find that center. Even I am not blind to that glaring metaphor. A secret wish is to find a guy who is a strong pair skater. The only time I've ever wanted to be a girl is when I watch pairs do death spirals. The girl has such a cool position in that element and I want to feel what that's like. Wearing a dress or make-up doesn't move me, but being the partner in a back outside ( NOT inside back or forward inside... I'm a purist.) death spiral would be my idea of heaven. This has little to do with fashion or fashion criticism/commentary, but everything to do with the things that make me tick creatively, spiritually and just stuff I LOVE. I will give my new skates a test drive next week and will probably have more to say on the subject then.
For the record I had an interesting week upon my return from Qatar. I was invited to participate in a symposium at FIT on "Fashion Icons and Insiders". As that topic is one that I instinctively bristle it was a lot of fun to have the discussion with Eric Wilson from the New York Times in front of an engaging audience. I was very nervous going into it but it went well and the audience seemed to enjoy it. Eric is such a pro and so intelligent. He's a fascinating person to have a conversation with and I would gladly have continued talking well into the night.

I'll look for you all at Sky Rink or World Ice in Flushing where I hear lies the "purrr-fect" surface!
* Blur: a short film by Mark Dennis


Kiki said...

Wonderful post, thank you, more on skating please!

spirou said...

Great post Fluff, you have great passions. Loulou de la Falaise passed on yesterday... . I am devastated. She was my hero, an icon, my favorite image, a true work horse, the greatest stylist; that girl could party all night at club 7 and go right to work in the morning.We all did then... She was a real Parisienne. True chic. Only 63...
Now she is with Yves.

madeleine said...

Love your story telling. I felt the same about ballet having done it from age three to age fifteen. I went back to it when I was twenty two. Classes, and memories of legs flying straighter and higher.

Wishing you much success and a lack of spills on the ice.

I'm a huge fan of Johnny Weir and his Balenciaga bag collection, well of course all of his good works too.


paupau said...

did you take them out for a spin?

Fluff Chance said...

Dear Paupau,
Yes I did go for a spin. It was fabulous.My new bespoke skates are formidable!