Francisco Costa

Fashion Designer

New York City

10 May 1964

Francisco Costa

Francisco Costa is the women’s creative director of Calvin Klein Collection.

The second youngest of five children, Costa was born in Guarani, Brazil, on May 10 1964. His mother ran a small childrenswear factory while his father owned a ranch. Before choosing a career in fashion, Costa entertained the idea of architecture and painting. Francisco’s mother died in 1981 and shortly afterwards the budding designer decided to move to New York, despite knowing no English. 

He studied language at Hunter College by day and took a course at the Fashion Institute of Technology in the evenings. After graduating, he was hired by Herbert Rounick to work for his garment company He-Ro Group creating dresses for Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. When Rounick died Francisco was taken on by de la Renta who, he says, gave him the ultimate design education. "He taught me the most," Costa once said. "And not just the craft, but life. Oscar is so full of life and has a genuine interest in what’s good." Costa worked first on de la Renta’s Japan licenses and moved on to the ready-to-wear collection and the launch of the diffusion Pink Label line. Costa also worked on couture pieces for the house of Balmain, to which de la Renta had recently been appointed.

In 1998 he went onto work at Gucci where he worked as Tom Ford’s assistant. He moved to London and worked alongside Ford on all fronts. His first project was 1999’s memorable Cher collection—“flower trousers, California, hippie cool,” he later recalled.

In 2001 an acquaintance between his longtime partner, horse trainer John DeStefano, and cofounder of Calvin Klein (and racing aficionado) Barry Schwartz leaded to an introduction to Klein. 

In 2002 De La Renta offered him a position at Pierre Balmain which Costa declined. Francisco  signed on at Calvin Klein. He was made women’s creative director of Calvin Klein Collection in 2003, having worked at the label for a year. He was 39-years-old.

In August 2004 he became a member of the CFDA. In 2006 and 2008 Francisco won the CDFA’s prestigious Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. In 2009 Costa was honored—along with company CEO Tom Murry—at the Parsons Fashion Benefit and selected for the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion Design.

Costa has dispelled rumours he will one day set up his own line. "When I think about doing my own line, I think about [Karl] Lagerfeld," he once said. "Not so successful with his own line, but super-successful with Chanel."

He stepped out of Klein’s formidable shadow and made a name for himself, while maintaining the integrity of one of the most recognizable names in fashion.


Text Courtesy:

Bellow Francisco Costa Collection