Maria Sharapova will return to the US Open next week and she will do in Swarovski-studded tennis dress designed by Riccardo Tisci for Nike. Yes, Sharapova's uniform for her night matches will be all black with lace and crystal details. Because women in sports can be elegant and fashionable too. “It was always going to be black. It wasn’t even a question of what we were going to do for the night matches,” said Sharapova, curled up on a couch at Nike’s headquarters in New York. “When I think of anywhere that I play, I want to bring a sense of elegance to the feeling that I have when I walk on to the court. That’s really what I felt with the 2006 dress, and what I really wanted to relive in this dress is the moment of elegance and thinking of Audrey Hepburn and her classic Givenchy dress,” she says. And Tisci has been collaborating with Nike for the most time. “I respect Maria so much as an athlete and she respects me so much as a designer, and both of us work for Nike, so it came up as a collaboration that we’d like to do together. To me, it was very special to design an outfit for an athlete playing on the courts,” Tisci said to Vogue. “That moment she had in 2006 was a very iconic moment, and we wanted to honor it, and be inspired by it. We decided to use lace and crystal, which are very me, and black, which is my favorite color and very representative of my career but also the color that has brought a lot of luck for her. So when we started talking about this project, it just made sense.” Sharapova says, “There are so many things that really make sense in this collaboration. The inspiration was there from the first moment that we sat down together.”
We spent a few hours about inspiration, and actually none of it had to do with tennis,” she said. “A lot of it had to do with design and how I wanted to feel and what elements he wanted to bring to this from a completely different background than just sports, from couture, from fashion. We really wanted to blend those elements together.” The Swarovski crystals, which will be glittering in the spotlights of Arthur Ashe stadium, came in a bit later in the process.
“I did four or five drawings, she chose right away the black one and then the crystal came in the second meeting, when I said it would be fantastic for crystal to be a part of the dress,” Tisci explained. “Crystals have never happened before on a tennis player.”
Let's not forget that Tennis is a sport and in sport your outfit has to be comfortable and not cause any interruption. Nike has one of the most rigorous laboratories where all athlete’s apparel is wear tested. “She’s performing in it, so you have to respect the sort of things that are important for an athlete to play,” said Tisci, noting that he worked closely with Nike’s team to figure out ways to make the ensemble practical and beautiful. “I’m very happy because it is very modern and pure. Everything is very geometric. The lace looks like the classic fishnet they use on tennis outfits, and the shape, the design is very pure. It’s very elegant, very minimal but at the same time very strong.” Tisci told Vogue.
The look comes complete with a black bomber jacket, tailored to Sharapova’s exact specifications. “One of the things we spoke about is I love this feeling of elegance, but I love to mix it in with masculine pieces and oversize things, and so when we talked about a jacket it was like We’re going to do a bomber and we’re going to make it nice and big and billowy in the back,” she says. “We worked with proportion a lot because when you think of elegance and sexiness you always think of things that are streamlined and very body conscious, but I think this is more about a play of materials, textures, and shapes, coming together.”
The entire look will be on sale on August 26 in Nike stores, with the dress priced at $500 and the jacket at $700. Tisci told Vogue,“2017, I’m going to do a few projects, a few collaborations, Nike, some other stuff, and 2018 I’ll come back, for sure.” We can't wait to see it.