Having already experienced the highly competitive world of championship figure skating, Michael Kuluva has found his way into a field where the battles may be fiercer: clothing design.
A star in the touring Disney on Ice production of Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” playing Dash, Kuluva runs Crown Prince Couture, a website clothier of hip fashions that, Kuluva says, are being worn by such celebrities as Jessica Simpson, Ryan Seacrest and Ricky Martin. The website is www.crownprincecouture.com.
“It’s a little side project,” Kuluva said by telephone from Houston, where the tour had stopped before it was to appear this week at Alltel Arena. “It’s casual wear, trendy boutique wear for men and women. We have T-shirts, intimate apparel, a whole lot of stuff. I’ve been doing it independently since 2004. I enjoy it on my days off.”
The web boutique serves as a nice getaway from the daily grind of a tour that is in its ninth month. “I have always had a sense of fashion before it comes out,” he said. “I’ll think about it 365 days a year. Some days I’m seeing the new trends coming out and I’ve wanted to do my own things.”
Kuluva, who is 22, never went to college to study design or to skate. He was among the serious skating competitors at an early age, first putting on skates in Los Angeles at age 7. “I skated as an amateur for 10 years and was on the 1998 Junior Olympic team,” he said. His skating coach, Frank Carroll, also served in that role for Olympian and multi U.S. and world champion Michelle Kwan.
“I grew up with a lot of” the Olympic skaters, Kuluva said. “Sasha Cohen and I grew together, along with a couple of others on the Olympic and World teams this year.”
Though no longer competing in world events, Kuluva followed his friends’ exploits this past winter and rooted for Cohen, who slipped in her last-night long program and finished with a silver medal at Turin.
About 90 percent of “The Incredibles on Ice” cast competed for their country before joining professional skating troupes, Kuluva estimates. “We have people from all over the world in our cast, and most have gone to the world championships and skated nationally for their country and placed in the top.” Kuluva placed third in the world in 2004 in professional men’s figure skating. He’s in his fifth year of professional skating, the past four with Disney.
When he saw the animated film “The Incredibles,” Kuluva immediately wanted to join the ice team that was sure to come. Disney has taken all of its recent popular children’s films and put them “on ice.” Kuluva said he felt like he could handle the role of Dash easily.
“The movie kept my interest throughout,” Kuluva said. “I studied the movie to get a lot of the different faces that Dash has and how he interacted with the other characters. I watched the movie too many times to count.”
“The Incredibles,” however, marks the first film-to-ice show in which Disney has incorporated a complete new storyline for the characters, Kuluva said. Plus, there’s audience participation and “lots of great special effects, great lighting, things that the adults like.”
“It’s really a family show,” Kuluva said. “The husband and wife are trying to control the kids, and kids can relate to those characters, how the characters are fighting while they’re trying to have a vacation. Something is always happening on the ice.”