Inside the design of intricate, crystal-patterned U.S. Olympic gymnastics team leotards

U.S. gymnasts show off some of their custom leotard options for the Paris Olympics. (Courtesy GK Elite Sportswear/TNS)

Thuc Nhi Nguyen | Los Angeles Times (TNS)

The day after hearing their names called as members of the 2024 U.S. gymnastics team in front of a sold-out crowd in Minneapolis’ Target Center, Simone Biles, Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey and Hezly Rivera assembled on an NBC stage in front of an exclusive audience. Each gymnast received a red box labeled with a gold plate that read “made exclusively for” with their name. On three, each gymnast opened their box.

A sparkling, star-spangled leotard glittered inside.

“They were in awe,” said Jeanne Diaz, the design mastermind behind the U.S. Olympic leotards.

While trying to recapture team gold in Paris, the Americans will wear an eight-piece leotard collection that aims to take the Olympic leotard to new heights of both fashion and function. Don’t let the crystals — up to 10,000 on one — be a distraction. These bedazzled bodysuits are just as tough as the athletes who wear them.

“We are charged to create this beautiful intersection of fashion and sport and the Team USA leotard represents that at its pinnacle,” GK Elite CEO Matt Cowan said. “But ultimately they’re there to perform. They’re there to win gold medals.”

U.S. gymnasts show off some of their custom leotard options for the Paris Olympics. (Courtesy GK Elite Sportswear/TNS) 

Diaz’s Olympic process starts two years before the Games. The GK Elite gymnastics design director started planning in August 2022, compiling a mood board for a theme that could unify the collection. The Olympic host city provided a perfect muse.

Paris — one of the fashion capitals of the world and the city of light — is reflected in a pearl-studded white leotard inspired by couture runway gowns, the delicate art nouveau embellishments that loop and curve across an ombre bodice, and an Eiffel Tower-inspired crystal pattern that looks like a firework bursting in the sky.

But the leotard slated for the team final is Diaz’s favorite.

One sleeve is decorated with crystal stars on a blue background as red and silver crystals cut diagonally across a white body. The design evokes an athlete wrapped in an American flag.

“We want to make sure that when spectators, when viewers at home are watching the Games, they know exactly who Team USA is without seeing the USA on the hip of their leotards,” Diaz said.

A close look at details on the U.S. gymnastic team’s Paris Olympics leotards. (Courtesy GK Elite Sportswear/TNS) 

The same way athletes continuously upgrade skills and push the boundaries of the sport, GK Elite, which manufactured the U.S. Olympic leotards under deals with Adidas and Under Armour before finally putting its logo on the Olympic garment for the first time in Tokyo, always feels pressure to one-up itself. The Paris Olympics collection supercharged the classic solid red U.S. leotard with an innovative stretch satin more commonly used in high fashion designs. It’s the first time GK Elite has brought the fabric’s unique shine to a leotard, Diaz said.

Each athlete will receive eight competition leotards that have a combined 47,102 crystals. Thousands of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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