Recently, the New York Times wrote an article about the incredible bedazzling of the leotards, worn by the United States Olympic Gymnastics Team this year. According to the article, in 2008, when Nastia Liukin won the gold medal in the individual all-around at the Olympics in Beijing, her leotard had just 184 crystals on it, whereas, in 2012, when Gabby Douglas won the same event in London, her leotard had 1,188, and this year, many of the Team USA leotards will have close to 5,000 crystals on each. Ironically, the amount of crystals on the U.S. Gymnastics Team's Leotards has been growing along with the point system by which they are scored. In 2006, the Assessment System went from a 1-10 scale to an infinite one. Be sure to check out our amazing Crystals by Swarovski™ wall on the third floor of our brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco.
Leotards, which were once called maillots, were popularized in the late 1800's by Jules Léotard, a pioneer acrobat, known for the flying trapeze. In the mid-twentieth century, leotards took on a more modern shape, where they began to fit the human form, and were less baggy than they had been in the past. As recently as the 1970s, leotards were made from polyester, and it wasn't until the early 1980s that they began being manufactured from Lycra. With this new material came bold graphics, such as the stars and stripes on the side of the leotard worn by Mary Lou Retton and the rest of the U.S. gymnastics team during the 1984 Olympics.
Currently, the U.S. Gymnastics Team's Leotards are made of a shiny Lycra-like fabric called Mystique, which in addition to the crystals, adds even more sparkle to them. Despite being judged on their performance alone, and not by their outfits, many of the gymnasts like to feel good, and sometimes the added sparkle helps.
On the second floor of our brick-and-mortar store, you can find shiny nylon Lycra, similar to the Mystique fabric used in the manufacturing of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team's Leotards.
Whether you are creating an outfit for your next circus act, trip to Burning Man, costume for a dance competition or your kid's dance recital, we have an amazing selection of Lycra and crystals available in almost any color, in our brick-and-mortar store.
To order Lycra swatches for your next project, please use our Customized Swatch Service.