Michael Costello: Couture
A former Project Runway Season 8 contestant who went on to become a Project Runway All Stars finalist. The 29-year-old American fashion designer and father of two currently resides in Los Angeles, California. He creates couture gowns that are both effortless and glamorous, and always knows how to make any woman look her best. His designs have been worn by celebrities such as Rihanna, Katy Perry and Salma Hayek. FashioNXT and the city of Portland eagerly await his third return to this year’s runway show, held at Vigor Industrial Shipyard on Swan Island.
The popularity of your fashion in this independently minded town is unanimous. What’s your secret to getting Portlanders wrapped around your fashionable pinky?
Wow, it’s great to know I have Portland wrapped around my pinky [laughs]! I love the support in this town, and the people are amazing. I get so excited every time I show in Portland. I guess my secret is just doing what I love, and that’s making beautiful dresses.
What’s your process before beginning a design?
I think my design process is unique and definitely original. I love to play with the fabric for ten to fifteen minutes and let it speak to me. I’ll pin it or drape it onto a dress form and watch it fall. I instantly know what I want to make. I love soft silk jersey and silks, and charmeuse prints. My process is “letting the fabric speak before I do.”
At last year’s FashioNXT show you designed an iconic dress using leftover scraps of material. Can you talk about your motivation for this design?
I think it’s very important to get the message across about recycling and making art out of unconventional items. The idea came to me when I was in Portland last year for the show and I glanced at a box of extra badges, plastics, VIP passes, and paper articles, among other things. I felt as if they spoke to me and said, “Use me. Do something creative with me.” [laughs] I hope that doesn’t sound cheesy but that’s what happened. My inspiration became an idea, and I wanted to go forward with it. I think it sends a positive message telling everyone that you can make something out of nothing and really push yourself outside of the box. I love unconventional and I can’t wait for you to see this dress.
Are we going to see your proud mom in the front row of this year’s show at FashioNXT?
Yes, yes. I am buying my mom a ticket to Portland, and my son too! I want them to see the collection and experience how amazing FashioNXT has become.
You are going to be premiering two collections at FashioNXT 2013. Can you tell me a little bit about them, and why you think people should be coming to see both shows?
The reason people should come and see both collections is because I am premiering my first-ever men’s clothing line, and ready-to-wear for both men and women. My cousin Stephanie Costello and I worked very long hours to create a fashion-forward-vixen look that has a sophisticated edge and new depth that you have never seen from me before. We used amazing leathers and bondage-type clothing. It’s very dark, sexy and hot.
I am also presenting a couture collection this year. New and innovative cuts and silhouettes are outstanding for Michael Costello. I am still doing my signature draping, but the collection is very tailored and feminine.
You have dressed many of the A-list celebrities, such as Christina Milian, Ashanti, and Camille Grammer. It seems like every other day a major celebrity is coming to your LA studio to get styled on their way to a red carpet event. Is there anyone you’d like to dress who you haven’t just yet?
Fortunately I have been able to dress and make clothes for everyone I’ve ever wanted to meet. It’s truly a huge blessing. I’m hoping that one day the time will be right when my path will cross with Sarah Jessica Parker and she’ll know who I am and ask me for a dress.
You are one of the most desirable high-fashion designers in the country right now. You could probably showcase your designs anywhere in the world. What is it about Portland?
I love Portland. I love the weather, the people and the nightlife. It’s really exciting for me to come here and show a collection. I think the lighting, staging, and production teams and crews are amazing to work with, and I wouldn’t ever want to miss it. I love how fashion forward it’s become, and how the audience just can’t wait to see the show. It’s the best feeling in the world.