In dancing to a seventh-place finish in the first day of competition Saturday, Gilles and Poirier wore spandex jumpsuits with colored feathers on the shoulders, or maybe they were whirligigs. The fronts were ablaze with Vs of rhinestones that dipped to frightening lows; the backs clung tight to every curve. The costumes demanded attention.
Which is why Gilles and Poirier loved them.
Their rhythm dance routine is based around two Elton John songs, “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” and “I’m Still Standing.” And the way they see it, if you’re going to go with Elton John at the Olympics, you’ve got to go all-in.
“He’s such a showman and he’s always about putting on a spectacle and so we wanted this program to be that, putting on a spectacle, putting on a show for people and making a bold statement. And that’s why we wanted costumes that made a bold statement in a bold color,” Poirier said on Saturday night.
So they called their costume designer, Peter DeFreitas and asked for the best Elton John interpretation DeFreitas could make. He came back with the ones they are now wearing — in several different colors — to see which one had what Gilles described as “the most impact.”
“And orange just happened to be the one that was so bright that you’re like ‘that’s it!’” she said.
Not everyone can pull off wearing orange spandex jumpsuits covered in sequins and rhinestones, but Gilles and Poirier are accustomed to turning the skating circuit into their personal Halloween party. They’ve gone roller derby and bullfighter and Sgt. Pepper, along with some more conservative selections.
Two years ago, while dressed in matching black tuxedos with pink piping, Piper caught her hair on Paul’s shirt button. They skated this way for about five seconds, Poirier standing upright with the top of Gillis’s head attached to his chest.
“It was like one of those pure panic moments, like, what do I do? Do we stop? Do we keep going? Paul’s like, just keep moving,” she later told reporters.
They haven’t had similar disasters in the current orange costumes that they’ve been wearing since the fall skating season started — a miracle considering the number of sequins and rhinestones that Poirier estimated to be in the “hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands.”
“Thousands” is also what two spandex, orange sherbet, rhinestone and sequin costumes cost, Gillis said, though the expense is covered by the skaters’ sponsorships. And when they step onto the ice in a traffic cone blaze, the reaction is worth it.
“You walk out and people are like, ‘You guys are like a sunset.’” Gillis said. “Like a sunset of orange.”
And the best thing anyone has said about the costumes?
That “we have great butts,” she said.
But when asked if that made these her favorite of all her skating costumes, she paused.
“It’s one of them,” she said. “I would say it’s hard to pick a favorite.”
Standing beside her, Poirier laughed.
“I love all my children equally,” he said.
Then the two of them trundled out the mixed zone in their glittering creamsicle jumpsuits, a couple of skaters heading off the Olympic ice and back into the 1970s.