For six years, Michelle Kwan worked with fashion designer Vera Wang to create elegant and functional figure skating costumes.
“She knows me in terms of my lines,” Kwan tells PEOPLE, “and she knows my body really well.”
For those reasons and more, Kwan is keen on Wang to design her wedding dress following Kwan’s announcement of her engagement to U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Clay Pell.
“I did tell her the news,” says Kwan, who has been in New York City for Fashion Week. “She was like, ‘When is it?'”
Kwan says that throughout her skating career, Wang would have her try on gowns at costume fittings “just for size, for a visual on what’s happening for a spring or fall look,” the skater recalls. “She’d say, ‘This shape would look great on you, try this on!’ But I’d say, ‘Vera, I’m really excited to be getting married one day, but I don’t need to try on a wedding dress and if you’re not engaged, it’s supposed to be bad luck, right?’ But she was like, ‘Eh!'”
The commute from Washington, D.C., where Kwan is based, to New York City, where Wang is based, would work well for dress consultations, Kwan says. “I have a long relationship with Vera, so I hope she does it.”
A custom-made gown would go quite well with Kwan’s custom-made platinum engagement ring, too.
“I had gotten a sense of some of the things that Michelle would like by looking around,” Pell says, “but I really wanted [our] two initials, M and C, so I had that part made.”
As for the diamond, “the shape I thought looked best on her fingers was an oval,” Pell says, “which was also the shape of an ice rink. I liked that, and I thought that looked the best because she has such thin, long fingers.”
For Kwan, “my favorite parts are the details he thought long and hard about, like the M and the C. It’s so pretty.”
Planning for a wedding will be a cinch for Kwan and Pell, too.
“I remember sitting down with Clay to prepare for our White House fellowship interviews,” Kwan says, “but we ended up just talking. We laughed so hard that I was crying. I never was one who believed in love at first sight, but I have to admit it happened for us. I felt there was a magnetic connection between us. I thought he was the one from the beginning.”
For more on Kwan’s engagement, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands now.