Sneak Peek of Simone Biles and Team USA’s Parisian Leotard

When Simone Biles raises her arms to greet the Olympic judges in Paris this summer, she’ll be wearing nearly 10,000 hand-placed crystals weighing nearly a pound.

Leotards are expected to exude courage and grace, withstand triple somersaults with a twist, and withstand the bright lights of the Olympics.

Much like the intensive training process leading up to the Games, creating eye-catching Olympic leotards is a rigorous and time-consuming undertaking.

Jeanne Diaz, design director at GK Elite, the official manufacturer of leotards for the U.S. Olympic team, began working on the leotards for the Paris Olympics more than two years ago.

It all started with collecting feedback from the gymnasts who participated.

The Patriotic Poise competition suit.GK Elite Sportswear

“They told us overwhelmingly and unanimously that they want to wear red, white and blue for the Olympics. … The more crystals the better,” Diaz said.

The design team then created mood boards that focused on three themes: American femininity, opulent femininity, and chic shine.

Each theme was based on stylistic imagery, including 80s fashion, American flag stars and Parisian haute couture.

A design sketch for the Star Spangled Shine Competition Leotard.GK Elite Sportswear

Diaz described the design process as a “high-fashion take on the typically sportier tights,” rooted in American iconography.

“We really connected the designs to Paris as the host city,” Diaz said. “Paris is known as the fashion capital of the world and we know all eyes are on Team USA, so we made sure we had that cohesion of fashion throughout, but also that the entire collection was unmistakably Team USA.”

The most patriotic leotard in the collection is usually saved for the Team Final, where the American women hope to compete for gold on July 30.

The Go for Glory design, which the US women are expected to wear during the team finals in Paris, aims to capture “the glorious moment when an athlete, wrapped in the flag, becomes a symbol of triumph.”

The Go for Glory competition suit.GK Elite Sportswear

The leotard is decorated with 9,929 precisely placed crystals, cut into diamond shapes, and weighs almost a pound.

Adding the beads is the most time-consuming stage of the production process and must be handled with precision to prevent the crystals from becoming dislodged while the gymnasts are performing.

The Team Final design pays homage to the iconic leotard worn by the “Magnificent Seven” at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the first U.S. women’s gymnastics team to win Olympic gold.

“We wanted the athletes to feel like they could go into the competition with that much power,” Diaz said.

The USA Elegance Competition Leotard.GK Elite Sportswear

Another Olympic design, the USA Elegance Competition Leotard, combines the “finesse of gymnastics and French haute couture.”

It features patriotic red and navy ombré colors and over 5,000 crystals, including patterned diamonds and crystal flames, that evoke the athletes’ “competitive fire.”

The USA Elegance Competition Leotard.GK Elite Sportswear

The corset details and zigzag edges are a nod to Parisian fashion and a deliberate combination of artistry and athleticism.

Each long sleeve competition suit comes with a short sleeve replica for training sessions.

The Sovereign Sparkle design is reminiscent of Independence Day fireworks, but at the same time brings to mind Paris at dusk and the Eiffel Tower.

The Sovereign Sparkle competition suit.GK Elite Sportswear

“Paris is the city of light,” Diaz said. “So we took a tonal approach to those designs and drew inspiration from a play of light, with matte and glossy contrasts and tonal elements.”

The American Anthem Leotard is inspired by the Art Nouveau movement, which emphasizes sinuous lines and dynamic illustrations. The leotard is intended to draw the eye upwards to the face, enhancing the performance quality of gymnasts on floor exercise.

The American Anthem Competition Leotard.GK Elite Sportswear

The Luminous Legacy Leotard also combines haute couture and American prowess. The color palette mimics the night sky and features a constellation of over 10,000 Swarovski crystals.

The bodice features a star pattern and a row of crystals that form abstract stripes along the sleeves.

The Luminous Legacy competition suit.GK Elite Sportswear

Diaz said it never gets old to watch gymnasts step onto the Olympic podium, wearing and embodying the culmination of years of work.

“It’s all made in the United States, and we get to see these amazing athletes perform in clothing that we’ve put countless hours into with our passion,” she said. “I can’t express in words how proud we all are.”

Stream every moment and medal from the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris on Peacock, starting with the Opening Ceremony on July 26 at 12pm ET.

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