About

the designer

Francisco Costa (born 1961) is the creative director of Calvin Klein Collection. He is also the winner of the Council of Fashion Designers America (CFDA) award for best womenswear designer in March 2006 as well as in June 2008. Costa's designs have sometimes estranged longtime Calvin Klein customers. His clothes are lighter and more feminine than those marketed by Calvin Klein previously.

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 4,000 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.

When his mother died in 1981 he left with a friend for New York City. He was twenty 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.

Klein's partner, Barry Schwartz, brought Costa's name to Klein's attention in 2001. Costa became the principal designer for Calvin Klein at the age of 42, in September 2003. Earlier in the year Klein sold his company to Phillips-Van Heusen for approximately $730 million. Costa joined the Klein design group in 2001 after working for Gucci, where he was an assistant to Tom Ford. Their first collaboration is known as the Cher Collection. Costa was mentioned as a possible replacement when Ford retired from designing for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, in late 2003.

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