Francisco Costa is celebrating 10 successful years as the women's creative director for Calvin Klein collection. In advance of the debut of his spring 2014 collection, he reflected back on his career with WWD's Bridget Foley, revealing some interesting tidbits about former boss Calvin Klein and his tabloid exploits, celebrity dressing, and runway shows as "propaganda."
He starts off talking about the beginning of his tenure at Calvin, which took place around the same time PVH took over and fired the whole in-house staff. "The whole studio, the whole production team, everybody. And we became a licensee. The minute we became a licensee, the structure that I had originally worked in [was gone]. Many people freaked out and left. I was a newcomer, here for only a year. I had no time to think about what exactly it meant. I had a job that I was paid to do." As for Klein's input at the time? " He would come in, but very honestly, he was not interested."
He adds that he doesn't have a personal relationship with Klein. "Socially, yes, we see each other. A nice relationship, but not personal." And that tabloid gossip surrounding Klein lately, like the scandal-ridden tell-all book proposal from ex Nick Gruber gives him the creeps:
Personally, I find that totally uninteresting. I find it very upsetting that this book [proposal] is out there. It’s totally disrespectful. I’m so not interested in gossip. It just gives me the creeps. I love the work; I love what I do. If somebody sends me an interview that has any connotation of something that’s not interesting or genuine, I’m not interested. I really detach myself from it.
While it's clear that Klein and Costa are very different people (Klein was more social, Costa more private, for instance), they are both known for celebrity dressing, which Costa describes as "just part of the business."
When you start dressing celebrities, there’s all this talk, “Oh, he’s a celebrity designer.” You know what? Calvin started that. Look at Brooke Shields. Andie MacDowell, right? I’m not doing anything here new. It’s just following the great concept that he left us here. I happen to do evening dresses — I love evening dresses.
And sometimes there are mishaps, like that time Katie Holmes wore a dress she wasn't supposed to wear, and he couldn't do anything about it: "This dress [a floaty white gown with a huge pleated skirt] was not to be worn; it was for a campaign. She puts the dress on and says, 'I want to wear this.' So I’m like, 'S--t, what am I going to do now?' It was so not appropriate to be worn, because there was so much fabric. But she put it on, she felt great, she looked great." Hm...could he have be talking about her Met Ball dress?
Adding himself to the list of designers and other industry professionals who feel that the fashion shows have become a bit silly, Costa compared them to celebrity dressing. In the case of Calvin Klein, a gigantic brand with commercial collections that are very separate from what we see on the runway, Costa says there is "very little distribution" of those runway pieces. "There’s an aspect of runway today that’s similar to [celebrity dressing]," he continued. "I think the shows have become spectaculars. It’s propaganda. It’s [directed at] the editors, the population directly connected to it. It has to excite."
He even admits that for today's runway show they are "focusing on Instagram" and working with bloggers around the world and Tumblr contributor Hanneli Mustaparta to share content--further proof that fashion week is more of a spectacle than anything else.