Francisco Costa (designer)

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Francisco Costa
Francisco Costa Nicole Trunfio 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Francisco Costa and Nicole Trunfio at the Vanity Fair party for the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Born (1964-05-10) May 10, 1964 (age 55)
EducationFashion Institute of Technology
AwardsCooper-Hewitt National Fashion Design Award, 2009, Council of Fashion Designers America Womenswear Designer of the Year, 2006 and 2008[2]

Francisco Costa (born 10 May 1964)[1] is a Brazilian designer and the Women's Creative Director of Calvin Klein Collection.[2] Costa won the Council of Fashion Designers America (CFDA) award for Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2006[3] as well as in 2008. Costa also won the National Design Award in 2009 in the category of Fashion Design. More recently he launched a beauty concept called Costa Brazil inspired by his native Brazil (

Youth, education, and training[edit]

Costa is the second youngest of five children. He grew up in Guarani, Brazil, where his mother, Maria-Francisca, owned a children's wear factory. She began her business producing dresses commissioned by a traveling salesman. Costa's father, Jacy Neves da Costa, ran a small ranch. In his hometown of 8,000 people, Costa put on fashion shows for charities. His size is compact and he has brown eyes. Being civic minded by nature, his mother was like the mayor of the town. She presided over her family. Costa remembers there being fifteen people at his family's lunch table.

Following his mother's death in 1981, he left with a friend for New York City in 1985.[4] He was twenty-one[4] and spoke no English at the time. He enrolled in a language class at Hunter College and took courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology at night. He obtained employment with Herbert Rounick, whose Seventh Avenue (Manhattan) company made dresses for Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. Costa went to work for de la Renta after Rounick's death, designing for the firm's Japanese licenses. Costa credits de la Renta with teaching him the most about both designing clothes and life. He remained with the company for five years.

Women's Creative Director, Calvin Klein Collection[2][edit]

Klein's partner, Barry Schwartz, brought Costa's name to Klein's attention in 2001.[1] Costa became the principal designer for the women's[2] Calvin Klein Collection at the age of 39,[1] in September 2003. Earlier in the year Klein sold his company to Phillips-Van Heusen[5] for approximately $730 million.[1] Costa joined the Klein design group in 2001 after working for Gucci,[6] where he was an assistant to Tom Ford.[5] Their first collaboration is known as the Cher Collection.[1] Costa was mentioned as a possible replacement when Ford retired from designing for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, in late 2003.[5]


  • Cooper-Hewitt National Fashion Design Award, 2009[2]
  • Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Womenswear Designer of the Year, 2006 and 2008[2]

Fashion collections 2004–2007[edit]

Costa emphasized trouser suits in the spring 2004 collections. Costa also paired clingy, translucent daytime skirts with cashmere tops and layered cardigan over rumpled white shirts and men's ribbed undershirts with loose cotton shorts. This look reflected the late 1970s styles when designers like Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis came to prominence.[6]

In the fall of 2004 Costa introduced washed silk dresses and black wool felt coats. The clothing was given weight by the librarian brogue heel. The style was exceedingly popular during both the Paris, France and Milan, Italy shows.[7]

In his collection for Spring 2005 Costa showed a sea-green silk dress "wrapped like a towel". The silk dress was coveted by many buyers and shipped to stores in the late fall and early winter.[8]

The inspiration for this collection's uncomplicated evening dresses were primitive wood sculptures by Brâncuși. They were based on a trapeze, combining viscose jersey with silk.[9]

Vogue and Harper's Bazaar named Elle Macpherson to their 2005 best dressed lists after she wore Costa's lime green dress. [10]

Costa's February, 2006 collection for Calvin Klein was reviewed by New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn, for conveying "largely a surface beauty". It featured dresses with many layers of black chiffon and tulle. His collection was reminiscent of the 1930s. Horyn wondered if many women would not find the fashions "untenable and fussy, if not stifling."[11]

In May 2006 Costa served as chairman of a benefit for the Whitney Museum of American Art. He approached artists Ghada Amer, Vik Muniz, and Billy Sullivan to make art identified with fashion. After being shown at the Whitney Art Party, the work was moved and displayed in the windows of the Calvin Klein boutique on Madison Avenue (Manhattan).[12]

Private life[edit]

As of May 2004 Costa's partner was horse trainer John DeStefano Jr. The two had been together fourteen years. Costa donned a coat and tie to join DeStefano for opening day at Belmont Park, where the latter had horses running in the eighth and ninth races.[13] Costa and DeStefano met at George Smith, the furniture store where Costa worked on Saturdays to supplement the salary he earned on Seventh Avenue.


  1. ^ a b c d e f What Comes Between Costa And His Calvins?, New York Times Magazine, Spring 2006, pgs. 210-215.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Celebrates Winners and Finalists of the 10th Annual National Design Awards" (PDF). Cooper-Hewitt. September 21, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  3. ^ Jim Shi, "Calvin Klein's Francisco Costa Triumphs at The CFDA Awards", Daily Front Row, June 6, 2006
  4. ^ a b Sarah Bailey, "Costa's Calvin Klein", Harper's Bazaar, April 22, 2008
  5. ^ a b c Gucci's Choice For Designer Needs Sketches, and Charisma, New York Times, November 6, 2003, pg. C1.
  6. ^ a b Calvin Klein's Successor Loosens The Corset Laces, New York Times, September 18, 2003, pg. B7.
  7. ^ Accessorizing With Punch, New York Times, March 16, 2004, pg. B.8.
  8. ^ Shh! Just Pretend You've Never Seen Those Styles, New York Times, September 7, 2004, pg. A1.
  9. ^ "All the Pretty Clothes. And Then, Calvin Klein, New York Times, September 16, 2004, pg. B.11.
  10. ^ The Good, The Bad And the Huh?, New York Times, January 5, 2006, pg. G.1.
  11. ^ Evolution on the Runway; Room to Grow, New York Times, February 11, 2006, pg. B.20.
  12. ^ Using a White Shirt As Their Canvas, New York Times, May 11, 2006, pg. G.6.
  13. ^ Horyn, Cathy (May 11, 2004). "With the Clotheshorses Of the Backstretch". The New York Times. p. B.11. Quote: Francisco Costa, the designer at Calvin Klein, does not ordinarily go to Belmont Park on a Wednesday, but it was opening day, and John De Stefano Jr., a horse trainer who has been his companion for 14 years, had horses running in the eighth and ninth races.

14.^ a b c d Francisco Costa Biography, VOGUE.COM, July 2010.

External links[edit]