"It's ballerina meets film noir," says figure skater-slash-designer Johnny Weir of his collection of six black dresses, available exclusively on eDressMe.com this Saturday, April 30. He chose a limited color palette, he says, "because I wanted to show people that I’m not always outrageous and garish like they tend to think of me." Sticking to a ballet-inspired silhouette, Weir's favorite dress has a fitted, corset-style top and a layered, voluminous tulle skirt. "I love the look of a skirt that’s short in the front and longer and poofed out in the back," he says. "I love a bustle. It's great for the waistline."
Tell us about the design process for these dresses.
Well, I’m a busy girl and run around the world at warp speed, but I’ve gone into the office maybe five times and gone over the designs. I was sketching, and going over fabrics and colors and the whole thing with Joanne [Stoner, eDressMe’s founder and CEO]. I’ve been so interested in design for so long that the collection has already lived in my head for six of seven years, so it was very easy for me to put it on paper and to explain myself.
How did you get involved with eDressMe?
My manager and her team moved into a new office that was right across the hall from eDressMe. So, in talking with Joanne and the rest of the team there, they made this bond and it seemed like a really natural fit. I had never heard of eDressMe before, but now that we have this relationship, I love it. I send all my girlfriends there.
Why did you decide to stick with a limited color palette in this collection?
I think there’s a great deal of restraint in these designs. I wanted to use just black and ballet-slipper pink as my colors for the first collection, because I wanted to show people that I’m not always outrageous and garish like they tend to think of me.
Most of these dresses have a very distinct shape, with a corset-style bodice and fuller skirt. Why is that?
I have two dresses like that because I love the way it shapes a woman. No matter what condition your legs are in, you always look skinny in that style dress. I was really inspired by ballet and by figure skaters, so I used a lot of tulle. As for the bodice — it pushes the girls up and slims down the waist. And I love the look of a skirt that’s short in the front and longer and poofed out in the back.
It’s almost like a bustle.
Yes. I love a bustle. It’s great for the waistline. Especially right now with Beyoncé and the Kardashians and everyone getting so much drama and credit for their booty. And I myself am a lady with quite an ample booty. So I love bustles for that reason.
Are you at all worried that these dresses might look too much like figure-skating costumes?
I think there’s no way that any of them look figure skaterish. Of the six dresses, there might be one that’s a little borderline skaterish.
Are you concerned about people pegging you as a “celebrity designer”?
This isn’t just a celebrity-driven thing. Fashion is something that I want to be involved with for a long time, and I want to show that I can give people what they want while still keeping my pizzazz and my razzle-dazzle. Right now in my life, I’m trying to make a new project that stands on its own without me being Johnny Weir, the figure skater. I want these projects to be able to stand on their own, and the dresses absolutely do. Even if my name wasn’t attached to them, they would be attractive to everyone, not just size-zero girls, and not just figure-skating fans. With my personality and my reputation, it’s very easy to go over-the-top and costumey, and these dresses are things that any lady could wear to anything.
Have you thought about formally studying fashion design?
Yes! Something that I’m very adamant about is learning the basics. I did go tour at FIT after the last Olympics, but it was really daunting and scary to me because I’d just spent the last thirteen years of my life being told what to do by skating coaches, and I wanted a year of freedom!
Will you launch your own line anytime soon?
So I don’t think it’s out of the question to have my own line in the coming year, but right away after these dresses I don’t think it’ll be possible because of other projects I’m working on. But I am going to do a holiday collection with eDressMe. I want to do really cute, lets-go-out-and-party-like-it’s-2011 dresses for New Year’s Eve and Christmas and Hanukkah.
Will the holiday collection also be all black?
No, I’m all about changing it up. I’m inspired by Fabergé eggs, and so I’m thinking Fabergé-inspired, sparkly, over-the-top glamour for the holiday collection.
You’ve done a lot of modeling. Would you be the face of a label?
Well, I would love to be a spokesmodel for Karl Lagerfeld or Balenciaga or something like that. Louis Vuitton has always had really excellent celebrities, like J.Lo and Madonna. But I think that would be really fun to do. I definitely don’t think of myself as an actual male model. I’m far too short and my legs are far too muscular.
Will you personally wear these dresses?
I’m hoping that some of RuPaul’s drag queens will wear these dresses. I’m not really one to go out in public in dresses too often. I definitely mix it up between masculine and feminine all the time, but wearing a dress goes a little bit too far. But I would wear every single dress if I were a lady, or a drag queen.
Who are some celebrities that you hope to see wearing your designs?
Well, I’m definitely sending a dress to Kelly Ripa and Sarah Jessica Parker right away. Lady Gaga’s also a huge inspiration, but my dresses are bit too tame, I think, for her. I’ll send her one anyway, though.