NEW YORK — What is it like to cut your teeth with a fashion giant?
“You listen, listen, listen and then you execute, execute, execute,” said Francisco Costa, who worked for Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford and Calvin Klein before becoming women’s creative director of Calvin Klein Collection. “You work very hard. It’s a learning experience.”
Costa took to the stage at the Fashion Institute of Technology on Monday for a conversation with Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT, the designer’s alma mater. During the 90-minute talk, Costa offered insight into his upbringing, his path to the top of one of fashion’s biggest brands and the mentors along the way, his role at Calvin Klein and thedesign process.
The designer, who grew up in Guarani, Brazil, credited his late mother, Maria-Francisca, for much of his early fascination with fashion.
“I don’t know where she’d find international magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but she’d have them around,” Costa recalled of his mother, who had an interest in charity that prompted a teenage Costa to create clothes and plan charitable fashion shows.
After his mother’s death in 1981, Costa moved to New York, taking English classes at Hunter College and enrolling at FIT in the evening. He landed his first job at Susan Bennett Studio before joining the He-Ro Group to work on Bill Blass dresses and knits. He then began working with de la Renta, followed by a stint with Ford at Gucci. In 2002, he was looking to return to New York to be with his partner, John DeStefano.
“Oscar called me and said, ‘I’d love for you to come back and do Balmain,’” he recalled, adding that he eventually turned down the offer and instead decided to join Calvin Klein in New York. “There was always an excitement and genuine interest,” he said of Klein. “He is so curious, direct, sharp and very funny.”
Asked if he would ever consider taking on more creative control at Calvin Klein International, Costa pointed to the company’s successful structure, which has separate creative directors for men’s wear, accessories and other divisions. For instance, he meets with Italo Zucchelli, his men’s wear counterpart, to discuss matters such as upcoming campaigns. Costa also said that when he sometimes reflects on why he never started his own line, his mind wanders to Karl Lagerfeld, whose biggest success was at Chanel.
As for the recession, great design should never be compromised, said Costa, who hopes to continue doing what he does now. “I just love what I do,” he said. And while scores of celebrities have selected Costa’s designs for the red carpet, he admitted there is one woman he would like to see in his designs. “It would be fun to dress Michelle Obama, actually,” he said.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion