Michael Costello Discusses Debuting Loungewear, Using Virtual Fashion Shows & The Future Of Fashion Weeks

Michael Costello is one of the most prominent celebrity fashion designers in the world, having dressed some of the most talented and recognizable women on the planet, including Beyoncé Knowles Carter, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Cardi B and more. A self-taught prodigy, Michael has built a massive empire by making women of all shapes and sizes feel beautiful and upending an industry that lacked diversity and excitement to reach millennials like himself. Most recently, he released numerous women’s fashion collections with e-tailer REVOLVE and captured the world with his immediate pivot to aid essential workers in the U.S. at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March; he was one of the first designers to research, design and produce protective fashion masks. So far, he’s designed and donated more than 20,000 masks to 750 hospitals in New York, Los Angeles and Nevada, in some cases, personally delivering masks to essential workers on the front lines. Here, I chatted with Costello during an Instagram Live session to discuss his favorite red carpet moments, why he started the Million Mask Mission, shifting his brand strategy to create loungewear in response to the pandemic and the future of fashion shows and fashion weeks. (To check out the Michael Costello collection online, please visit the site by clicking here).

Michael Costello Photo Credit: Michael Costello

ON HIS SURPRISING FAVORITE RED CARPET MOMENT WITH KESHA & THE MONUMENTAL MOMENT WHEN TONI BRAXTON CHOSE HIS GOWN OVER VERSACE 

One of my favorite red carpet moments was with Kesha in 2013 at the American Music Awards…I dressed her in a dress that was from my latest collection called the Barcelona Dress. It was a black one-shoulder top and a black high-slit skirt…this was a big departure from how we know her…a softer, more romantic Kesha. Most people would think that my favorite moments would be with Beyonce or Celine Dion or Mariah Carey…With Toni Braxton—who I’ve known since I was 15 years old—she was one of my first clients…Toni was getting ready to shoot her music video for the FIFA World Cup with Il Divo, and Versace sent her custom gowns, Michael Kors had a beaded gown for her, Emanuel Ungaro had a beautiful color piece. The designer gowns [that were] in her dressing room were outstanding. But I showed up with one dress only and she knew I was coming and at that point she was in rehearsals…and I couldn’t go in because she was warming up, and she likes to be alone when she’s warming up. She went into the room and she went directly to my little black dress and put it on, and said she didn’t want to try the other ones on. When you know someone’s body and when you love fashion more than anything in this world, it shows. No disrespect to the people who sit there and drape and construct and hand-bead, but I never went to fashion school and the way I drape fabric, I do it as if I am a women and I want to wear it.

Kesha x Michael costelloPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

ON HOW FASHION SPENDING HAS CHANGED DUE TO THE PANDEMIC & INTRODUCING LOUNGEWEAR TO HIS COLLECTION WITH REVOLVE

Everything is down and nobody’s buying dresses, and we get that…a lot of people are staying home right now so loungewear is where it’s at right now. You’re seeing a lot of fast fashion companies coming up with really fast online loungewear and I have to tell you that we’re one of them. We’ve partnered up with our longtime partners at REVOLVE to start working on loungewear, things that are more affordable for women [who are] not necessarily going out because there’s nowhere to go out right now. But women still do need to shop, we still need to buy things that we love…get out there, look online, look on REVOLVE, go to other websites too. You’d be really surprised and really shocked at what they have and you’d be surprised at what the prices are at right now. And a lot of companies are…using more Los Angeles and American-based companies for manufacturing now, so you’re not getting the cheaper quality product.

ON THE FUTURE OF FASHION SHOWS & FASHION WEEKS

I saw a fashion brand that did something really great: a virtual runway show with all the clothes just moving on the runway. It was so great, so great. We put a couple of ideas together of what we wanted to do. Of course we thought about getting maybe different mannequins in our collection, dressing them and having me do an Instagram Live talking about each piece and doing that around September…before this pandemic happened we were just putting out our new collection in March, and we do a show every single year in Palm Springs called El Paseo Fashion Week where we bring together all the Project Runway designers and we show a beautiful collection. That all stopped and was cancelled…so, I have this gorgeous collection with 55 pieces that’s just been sitting there and we haven’t done anything with it, it’s heartbreaking…I love the look of the [virtual fashion shows]. I feel like it still gives a person the 360-degree view of the fashion that they want to see. But people have always called us trailblazers in the industry; we were one of the first direct-to-consumer fashion brands before anyone else was doing it on Instagram. I feel like whatever we do come up with is something that our audience…can relate to, and something that will work out in a way that you can see the clothes in a new light and experience them without wearing them.

Michael CostelloPhoto Credit: Michael Costello

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