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WEIR NOW: Johnny Weir’s Olympic bid kicked off Tuesday night in Vancouver, but the skater’s glittery career ambitions extend to the fashion industry. In an interview with Frank Deford on “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” Weir said he plans to go into the fashion business in a big way, launching his own multicategory collection and even opening stores. (He even escorted the NPR commentator to Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue store to give him a much-needed makeover.)
Last month, he set off a fashion firestorm with antifur activists, when he competed in a fox-trimmed outfit at the U.S. nationals. He since has retreated and revealed plans to wear fake fur at the Winter Games. If Weir is keeping up with the New York runway shows, as his costume designer, Stephanie Handler, suspects he is, he must know fake or real fur will be a key fall trend.
Asked if she thought he was tuning in to fashion week, she said: “I imagine he is. That would be like him giving up water,” she said. “And they have such reduced practice schedules now. They can’t just wander around for the other 18 hours of the day.”
Weir has attended his share of shows and even walked in one for Heatherette designer Richie Rich, Handler said. His Seventh Avenue ambitions are no surprise to Handler, who has designed costumes for him since he was 13. “He’s been wanting to design since he began to skate. He loves fashion and clothes and all that stuff. I’m sure he will wait until the Olympics are over and then he will get down to business,” she said. “At this point, he knows enough about the amount of work that goes into designing to do his own. He brings in sketches to me and I work with him to clarify things. He’s really into choosing everything all the way down to the last details.”
Even Deford was hip to Weir’s post-Olympic plans. “I had heard before the interview that Johnny wanted a career in fashion after his figure-skating career was over, so I wasn’t surprised by his interest and acumen with clothes and accessories,” Deford said via e-mail Tuesday. “What I liked was that he didn’t just try to dress me as a tall Johnny Weir, but he really made an effort to find my style and just extend it a little. When my wife saw the piece, she, too, agreed that he’d gotten me just right. Purple purse: optional.”