By  on April 11, 2005

NEW YORK — Even as a young boy in the Brazilian town of Guarani, Francisco Costa was a maverick. At the age of 10, he designed an outfit to wear at a horse fair in the countryside. After sketching his masterpiece — he laughs now when he recalls the burgundy gabardine safari suit — he took it to a local tailor to have it made up. But when the burgeoning designer proudly stepped out of the family car on the day of the event, he noticed that all of his cousins were in jeans and cowboy boots. It was a horse fair, after all. They laughed at him, of course, but no matter; Costa learned then that fashion meant taking risks.

For his fall 2005 Calvin Klein collection — Costa’s fourth as creative director — he did just that: He took a chance by veering from the Calvin aesthetic not only with a Mod Sixties silhouette, but more significantly, with decorative, even flashy fabrics. “It all starts with the fabrics,” Costa says.

We took him at his word. From October to February, WWD trailed the designer as he worked through the textile development process for his fall collection to see what made it onto the runway and what ended up on the cutting room floor.

Oct. 25, 2004
It’s six weeks after the spring show, and Costa’s head is brimming with ideas for fall. First up, the pre-fall collection. It is here that initial inspirations take shape, in particular, the birth of a color palette. “You always have a starting point,” Costa says. “For spring it was Brancusi, for fall it is Sean Scully.” Scully, an Irish-born contemporary artist, is best known for his abstract color-block oils in shades of dark eggplant, washed reds and blue-grays. “For me, the way to interpret these looks is in prints or in patchwork,” says Costa. He develops several ideas in this vein. One of them, combining three different silver chantilly laces against a rose velvet ground, makes its way into pre-fall. The other, an abstract blend of men’s wear fabrics, is featured on the fall runway, most notably in a jacket that combines panels of gray pinstripe with lace.

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