Tag Archives: Francisco Costa

The Steve Jobs of Fashion

Earlier this week as the news spread of Steve Jobs passing, epithets were tweeted out by the masses, extolling the virtues of this man who brought wide sweeping change and innovation to the way we humans lived and experience life (Jane Lynch’s tweet was probably the best: “Steve, we will miss you. Sent lovingly from my iPhone”).  While there are many aspects of Steve’s vision to admire or marvel at, the ones that stand out in our mind were his ability to take something extraordinarily complicated, like a music cataloging, sharing and listening system, and turn it into a straight- forward and easy to use product like an iPod.  Secondly, his ability to render competition useless by being the first to offer a newer, better, enhanced version of his own product.  Steve knew what people wanted even before they knew themselves and by consistently delivering these products, before and better than anyone else could- Steve gained peoples trust and their hard earned dollars. These skills, combined with many other unique abilities help lead Apple to incredible success over the past decade and it got us to thinking, is there a Steve Jobs in the fashion world?  A designer who exemplifies this same vision of design and ability to harness the power of a brand?

The answer is perhaps not obvious, but if you stop to think, it probably should be. While there are certainly designers who are known for extremely detailed design (Karl Lagerfeld is tribe leader on this one; Hand sewing mini pleats requires enormous skill and detail to attention), few present collections that look as clean, basic and simple as the Apple product line. We liken this ability to the infamous scene in Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy is negotiating her return home and Toto runs over to pull back the green curtain, revealing the flurry of frenzied activity required to make the Wizard mirage work.  In the same way,  an iPod appears to be simple concept because it is easy to use, yet it exists because of the “behind the green curtain” mind of Steve Jobs and Calvin Klein exists for the same reason- the mind of Francisco Costa.

When watching his collections come down the runway, it is easy to be fooled into thinking his designs are ‘simple’ or ‘not intricate’ because of the clean, straight-forward aesthetic.  However, a well trained eye can recognize the incredible amount of sketching, draping, stitching, tailoring, fitting, restitching and finishing that goes into one ‘simple’ dress like one of these:

Calvin Klein Spring Summer 2011

Precision, exactitude and an incredibly deep knowledge of fabric performance is required to even come close to created something as prefect as a Calvin Klein sheath dress.  If Francisco is the Steve of design, then Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton is the marketer.  Each season, Marc and his team create the new handbag that drives brand loyalists, fashionistas, celebrities and editors alike to almost hysterical levels trying to get their hands on one. With an average cost of an average LV handbag hovering around $1500.00, it isn’t quite as easy to just upgrade to the newest version as it is an iPod, but the marketing around the luxury brand is so well done, and the associated status so high, ladies around the world pull out the credit card  and smile all the way to bankruptcy court if necessary.  After all, how different are these twelve bags that one woman needs to have all of them, or more than say, three?

Yes, there are different features included in each bag (although why one is called Neverfull when clearly it can be, hence the need for additional size options), but functionality isn’t the only thing driving sales.  The associated status of belonging to the elite LV brand is an extremely powerful tool that Marc and his executive team harness. After all, look who their most recent brand ambassador is:

Shot in Cambodia, Angie is wearing ‘no makeup’ (no comment) and is using her own bag.  This ad had the fashion world talking months before it was released and sometimes all you need is enough people talking to drive interest, and the car, all the way to the boutique.  Steve was great at this same task with Apple. Remember this ad?

No celebrity endorser, only 3 colors, extremely simple yet super powerful because who doesn’t know what it is like to rock out to music that only you yourself can hear!

If we had been able to get these three guys together, who know what would have been possible.  Although I am sure the first task on deck would have been to convince the multi-billionaire to invest in a slightly more modern wardrobe for his global product launches.  I mean, mock turtlenecks and ill-fitting jeans?

Bad fashion and a brilliant mind.  The world will miss Steve, but luckily we still have Marc and Fran.


Fashion Lessons from the Golden Globes 2011

Happy MLK day!  This means that the city is quieter as many have the day off to celebrate the significant contribution Martin Luther King made to our society, or lay on the couch all day and watch media coverage about last night’s Golden Globes. While I adore Joan Rivers and will watch her Fashion Police show on E! tonight, it really is only to hear the sarcastic, cutting comments and decidedly not her  (or Gulliana Rancic) opinion on what fashion is good or bad. I mean honestly, since when do we trust an 80 year-old woman whose face is stretched tighter than a canvas on a frame, to tell us what is in good taste!  So, allow me, to speak with the authority of decades of experience in the fashion industry, to share with you what lessons Sunday night taught me.

1. Sometimes the best color is the absence of color:

Tilda Swinton is amaaaaazing in Jil Sander.  If you are a reader of UpMyAli, you already know of my professed adoration of Jil Sander’s SS 2011 collection and this clean color palette, aesthetic and simple silhouette is manifique for Tilda.  Oh, and on a side note, could she not be a long lost sister of this other fashion authority?

Photo credt: Grace Coddington, Vogue Magazine.

It’s seriously eerie. Okay, back to Golden Globes.

2. Forget Lesson One- Color is Important!

One thing comes to mind: Red is always the color that men will be most attracted to. Case in Point: January Jones in Versace:

Seriously, only Donatella could have brought this masterpiece to fruition without people mistaking it for a leftover costume from Burlesque (I won’t even bother to dignify that movie’s nomination with a comment).  Watching the media (Ryan Seacrest) try to talk to January on the red carpet without staring at her chest was the most entertaining part….until Ricky Gervais opened his mouth. I adore him. Yet, I digress again.

It is almost painful to mention this next person because I find her annoying and frankly, over ambitious with the time she feels she has to become the mother of all orphaned children. But damn, she looked good in this highly saturated green Versace number (and with no skin showing, she still oozes sex!):

Angelina Jolie in Versace


Lesson 3: Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein) is the new Confucius.

As Confucius said, “Life is simple, we just insist on making it complicated” and boy, did Francisco Costa, designer for Calvin Klein, channel Confucius with his latest collection.   After last night, I am convinced that no one knows the power that a clean simple line and a strong color can have on truly making a modern statement more than Costa:

Um hello, Emma Stone.  A peach hued sheath dress with cap sleeves and a tiny train?  Genius.  When Emma dyed her beautiful red hair blond for Spiderman, I really thought, “Oh Lord, here we go with the tramp clothes”, but she really is the picture of young, sophisticated Hollywood (and a dead ringer for Kate Bosworth).  Francisco Costa also handed Claire Danes her best fashion moment yet in this beautiful pink, halter dress:

This dress really is perfect for someone who is smaller on top and larger on the bottom as is the case with Claire.  I would place money on seeing ABS knock this dress off for spring prom season.  Also, not to be mean, but thank God Temple Grandin has run through the awards cycle, any more uncomfortable moments of the real Temple hugging Claire for twenty minutes while her handlers just look around waiting for someone to do something is simply too much to take.


Lesson 4: Sleeves Aren’t Just for Covering Up Untoned Arms

It isn’t rocket science why the older a women gets, the longer the sleeves on her dress become.  This has become especially true as every blogger, TV host and weekly has its “Best/Worst” dressed list, and flabby arms in a sleeveless dress is as sure a thing to get on “worst list” as Courtney Love.  However, as evidenced by many actresses last night, long sleeves have become more about design than function.  Leighton Meester, part of the “young, fashion it crowd” (thanks in part to her role on Gossip Girl), looked beyond beautiful, classy and refined in long- sleeved Burberry:

Gotta say, I am sort of shocked she didn’t wear Missoni given that she is the face of the brand, but she made a great choice.  And P.S.- LOVE the shoes. Upcoming Oscar host Anne Hathaway also went for long sleeves in Armani Privé and scored a 10 out of 10:

If you notice above, Angelina Jolie also had long sleeves on that fab Versace number as did the woman who inspired the next lesson….


Lesson #5: Talent Trumps all Else

Yes, I said it.  Fashion can get you a long way, but really it is just packaging.  Megan Fox is case in point- she gets an Armani contract but all she will ever be is a pretty face, not a lot of acting talent there. On the opposite spectrum we have the beyond talented Annette Bening.  Winner for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for The Kids are All Right (if you haven’t seen the movie, get it today. I have no words other than Mark Ruffalo, will you marry me?), Annette proved that when you form part of the talented elite Hollywood crowd and sleep with the Warren Beatty, you can steal Helena Bonham Carter’s hairstyle and no one will say anything..

Hmm, she should be the face of Tigi’s Bed Head product line.  Great Tom Ford dress (love the transparent long sleeves), and I adore her practical side having reused a dress she was shot in for Harpers Baazar magazine months ago.


Lesson #6: New Category- Best Vintage Barbie

Let’s be honest, if we have a best Disney animated movie category, why can’t we have a fashion category for Best Vintage Barbie? And the 2011 Golden Globe for best reinterpretation of a Barbie goes to….

Milla Jovovich!  In Armani Prive, she is Russian Barbie circa 1995.   Honestly, I hate a worst dress list, but this is beyond heinous.

Final Lesson: Ricky Gervais and Robert Downey Jr. are the Funniest Men Alive

Seriously, only Ricky Gervais can find a way to offend pretty much everyone from the “powerful Scientologists” pretending to be straight, Hugh Hefner’s aging member, Mel Gibson, Cher, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and still be hilarious and keep the show moving (if you missed the genius opening monologue watch it here).   Then there was Robert Downey Jr.’s introduction to Best Actress for Comedy or Drama, where after joking around that in order to be a great actress you have to sleep with him, he admitted he had never slept with any of the nominees but, then said:

“I’m just saying, if I could, I’d give it to all five of you. At once. Right here. Center stage. In front of my wife, the audience, and millions of viewers.”

Genius. I laughed for a half hour. I smell Golden Globe host 2012!

*All Golden Globes arrival pictures courtesy of Getty Images