Free of sponsor ties, trackster Maggie Vessey is turning heads with her in vogue uniform selections.
Chanel, Luis Vuitton and Juicy Couture are no longer just for Fashion Week runways. Pro middle-distance runner Maggie Vessey, who moonlights as a fashion designer, sported a creatively cut blue-and-yellow one piece, Juicy Couture aviators and Chanel earrings during the 800-meter finals at the USATF Outdoor Championships this past June in Sacramento, Calif. The added glitz and attention didn’t seem to faze the runner, however—she finished in fourth place.
The 32-year-old has garnered plenty of attention around her colorful, chic and high fashion-inspired outfits worn during her 2014 races. Vessey shone three different looks during her time in Sacramento—one for the preliminaries, one for the semifinals and one blinged-out look for the finals.
“From my perspective as an athlete that’s trying to do their part to help grow the sport, I like that I can do something different to show the individuality of each athlete, to rally a fan base and have people become more excited and interested in track and field,” Vessey says.
After ending a four-year sponsorship with New Balance in January, the fashionista partnered with Los Angeles-based designer Merlin Castell to combine her two passions—running and fashion. Together, Vessey and Castell bring each outfit to life, from sketches on paper to fabulous skin-tight Lycra flying around a track.
Although Vessey’s designs have received an enormous amount of positive feedback, critics fail to praise the runner for her unique approach to uniforms, instead encouraging her to hide “distracting” short tan lines.
Vessey’s speedy comeback after being injured for most of the 2013 season is earning her just as much attention as the outfits on her back. She won the 400 meters at the Los Angeles Occidental Invite in May, clocking a 52.85 PR. A week later she ran 1:59.96 in the 800 meters at the USATF High Performance Distance Classic, her fastest 800-meter time since 2011.
Combined with her flashy presence on the track, Vessey’s blistering times are bringing more eyes to the sport as she looks toward the 2015 IAAF World Championships and 2016 Olympic Trials.
“If there’s great running, then there’s great running and a colorful kit will be secondary to that,” she says.