Costello Tagliapietra Are Chipper About Their Uniqlo Line
PHOTOS BY JACK SIEGEL
This is an age in which designers as individuals project and represent a lifestyle as much as the clothing they make. And of late, the proposed lifestyle sees designers wearing black leather gloves and transporting pugs around the world on private jets—or, on crash diets. Meet Jeffrey and Robert (Costello, above left; Tagliapietra, right), the masterminds (and self-proclaimed Brooklyn-based bears) behind the elegant, minimalist women’s label Costello Tagliapietra. These designers demonstrate a certain love of dogs, but a different model for living and working entirely.
The designers debuted their collection at New York Fashion Week in 2005, but they had already been together for nearly a decade before that. And like so many living and working couples, it was Madonna who brought them together: Both were employed at the original Sound Factory at the time, and collaborated on the “Bedtime Story” music video. After years of styling musical artists like Nine Inch Nails and Bruce Springsteen, they finally sent their portfolio to Vogue. They landed a two-page spread, and as Robert says, “The rest is history.” The near future, for instance, includes the release of a highly anticipated collaboration with Uniqlo on May 20.
Though Italian in name, the designers have been dreaming up simple and timeless pieces far from the haughty traditions of a Milan fashion house. For one, they live and design in the relative anonymity of their south Brooklyn studio space: “We got the going-out-to-clubs-every-night thing out of our systems pretty early,” Robert explains about their low-key routine. “So we are kind of like two hermits working away in our studio that our friends have to drag out.” Living and working has turned designing into a kind of self-contained waking life: “There are times when I’m trying to go to sleep and an idea will come that needs to be worked on and thought through. Luckily, the pattern table is in the next room!” But for two self-proclaimed homebodies, the Costello Tagliapietra empire is growing rapidly.
Drawing inspiration from painting and classical sculpture, Robert and Jeffrey are now under two weeks away from the release of their latest endeavor, a “working girl” collaboration with Uniqlo. “There is always that undercurrent of the sexy secretary or the powerful boss in our clothes,” Robert says, “and we always knew in our hearts we wanted to work with them.” Boss and assistant will come together over prices beginning at a jaw-dropping $29-39.
Partly because the designers are so masculine in their self-presentation and partly because it’s what successful designers do, the question of a potential menswear line is alwaysvery much in the air. There is no definite plan to launch in the near future—although one already foresees tailored flannel shirting, denim, and suspenders. What’s next isn’t always part of Costello Tagliapietra’s plan, says, Robert, “We never did this to be famous… we try to be ourselves and not let any of it go to our heads. We are still two chipper portly pappas!” And that’s not changing any time soon.