by Lynn Geiger
Stephanie Miller might work far away from the limelight, but her masterpieces sparkle in the national spotlight.
From her home in Kingsley, Miller designs the costumes worn by the biggest names in the ice skating world, including current U.S. ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The Michigan-based duo just brought home their fourth nat
ional win from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships held last month in San Jose, Calif.
That bronze, copper and gold-sequined dress Davis wore for the pair’s Latin dance? A Stephanie Miller original. So, too, was the stunning purple dress she donned while she and White waltzed across the ice.
“Color of fabric against the skater’s skin tone is the first thing we always look at,” says Miller. “Then I listen to the music and consider what the skater’s likes and dislikes are.”
Miller should know what Davis, 25, likes – and looks good in – by now.
“Meryl was eight years old when we first started sewing her freestyle dresses and then for her and Charlie when they became a team shortly after that.”
Miller designs and does the “stoning” – the crystals, beads and other sparkly embellishments – for the costumes, and her business partner Luanne Williams does all the sewing from her home in Grass Lake, near Jackson.
“Luanne can sew anything I draw up,” says Miller of their 17-year working relationship. “She is amazing.”
So how does the northern Michigan resident do her long-distance designing to the stars?
Miller and Williams meet once a week at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, where the skaters come for fittings. Skaters who live out of state or out of the country rely on mail and email for just the right look.
Miller herself was a synchronized skater for 17 years and also did ice dancing – she designed all her own costumes back then. Her eye for design, however, caught the envy of many fellow skaters and soon her professional designing career was underway.
The pair’s list of skating clients is long and also includes 2011 U.S. National Figure Skating Champion Alissa Czisny and current Canadian national ice dancing champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
One of Miller’s most memorable experiences as a skating costume designer: the 2010 Winter Olympics when her and Williams’ creations were decorated with gold and silver medals.
These days, Miller is hard at work designing one of Meryl Davis’ pieces for the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships – keep your eye out for an orange dress with fringe – held next month in Nice, France.